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Transformative UK aid projects to protect the agricultural sector and small-scale farmers in Africa


UK aid is set to help farmers across Africa grow their businesses and protect livestock against killer cattle diseases and grow smaller scale farms into major commercial operations through investment in farming which is vital as Africa is facing unprecedented population growth.

It is estimated that over the next 30 years, Africa will face unprecedented population growth and producing enough food for that increased number of people will be crucial in reducing poverty hence UK aid, through the Department for International Development (DFID), is supporting a number of separate transformative projects to protect the continent’s agricultural sector and its small farmers.

“By 2050, 1 in 4 people on the planet will be African. Producing enough food for the growing population is a both a huge challenge and a very important opportunity for inclusive economic growth, investment and poverty reduction,” said Penny Mordaunt, International Development Secretary.

A profitable agricultural sector is therefore essential to African countries, contributing half of the continent’s total export value. The World Bank estimates the sector accounts for 20 per cent of the continent’s entire GDP.

The transformative agricultural projects approach include new support to the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed), helping to develop seven new vaccines for major neglected tropical diseases and widening their availability across Africa to benefit eight million smallholder farmers. This transformative UK aid research will not only stop diseases from destroying the livelihoods of African farmers, it could also help control livestock diseases on British farms

Using investor AgDevCo to help small agricultural companies in Africa, including Kenya, attract long-term commercial finance to become profitable operations – allowing them to create jobs, support economic transformation and help countries move out of poverty.

“AgDevCo has already helped 1.6 million people across Africa increase their incomes by working with and developing agribusinesses. By 2025, UK aid support will allow 3.9 million people benefit from greater food security, higher incomes and more jobs,” said Penny.

Working with the Gates Foundation to launch a Food Trade and Resilience programme, to support companies who source, process and trade food across African borders, to benefit local farmers and improve countries’ resilience to famine and climate shocks.

Attracting more investment into firms that trade with smallholders, UK aid will help bring smaller farmers into commercial supply chains. The Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness (CASA) Programme will increase the income of over 130,000 farmers by helping SMEs that trade with smallholders to expand and attract third party investment.

“Through the CASA Programme UK aid will help bring small farmers into commercial supply chains by attracting more investment into firms that trade with smallholders. The programme will create new jobs by helping SME firms that trade with smallholders expand and attract third party investment.”

Finally new research, led by UK-African partnerships across business and science, to develop new technology and innovations that will help to avoid food shortages and make food more nutritious, affordable, and resistant to climate change. The Agri-Tech Catalyst is a UK programme that awards funding for research projects looking to improve food production in the developing world.

“With over three quarters of people living in extreme poverty in rural areas and two thirds of those, mainly women, earning a living from agriculture we know that a healthy and prosperous agricultural sector in African countries is vital not only to ending hunger, but also reducing poverty and growing businesses,” said Penny.

This UK aid support will tackle killer livestock diseases and support innovations to deliver sustainable, nutritious food and create more jobs for farmers, as well as supporting global research efforts and fostering breakthroughs with the potential to benefit UK agriculture and consumers too. This is a win for African countries and a win the UK as well.

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UK aid support to the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) will save an estimated £400 million by averting the deaths of livestock and improve the distribution network to widen the availability of the vaccine.

As new information, evidence and research is shared with business, governments and other donors other smallholders will benefit with these groups upping their investment in smallholder farming.

UK investor AgDevCo will help early stage agricultural businesses to expand and become fully commercial, allowing them to create jobs, support economic transformation and help countries move out of poverty. The non-profit company operates in Sub Saharan Africa, including in Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi and Ghana. The new UK aid support will allow it to expand into Kenya. Its investment objective is to build profitable businesses that contribute to food security, drive economic growth and create jobs.

The Food Trade and Resilience Programme will make it easier for commercial companies to buy from smallholder African farmers, helping to boost the income of 1.8 million farming families by 30 per cent. This will make the lives of poorer communities dependent on agriculture more secure and prosperous.

As Africa has become urbanised, there has been a shift to low-nutrition diets which has a negative impact on health and wellbeing, including educational achievement for children. At the same time, additional steps in the ‘from field to fork’ process (harvesting, collecting and transporting, processing and packaging) have increased the risk of food shortages and price rises, which are likely to disproportionally affect the poor. This risk is made worse by the growing threat of climate change to crops, such as the higher risk of drought, flooding and erratic rainfall.

Innovations funded by UK aid through the Agri-Tech Catalyst will seek to tackle these challenges, ultimately helping to prevent food shortages, price rises and diet-related illnesses, and end hunger around the world.

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