March 26, 2023

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CGIAR Food System Accelerator Kick-Off in Kigali, Rwanda to Announce Top 10 Agribusinesses from East and Southern Africa

The CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator Kick-off event is taking place in Kigali, Rwanda on 22 February 2023 to unveil its first cohort of agribusinesses from East and Southern Africa. The event will bring together a diverse group of companies scaling climate-smart innovations that address pressing problems in food value chains.  

The competition received 288 high quality applications and selected 10 agribusinesses as the first cohort for the Food Systems Accelerator. The initiative will assist with match-making demand (agribusiness needs) with supply (CGIAR science and knowledge assets). Together, the agribusinesses together with the CGIAR scientists and local demand partners in the agribusiness ecosystem, will support the scaling of various  innovations from mechanization to solar irrigation, conservation agriculture, agriculture risk management solutions and nutrition. These agribusinesses are located in the four priority countries of the first cohort: Kenya, Zambia, Uganda and Rwanda. Subsequent phases will prioritize other countries in the region including: Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Eswatini and Tanzania. 

According to Mercy Zulu-Hume, Food Systems Accelerator Programme Lead from the Alliance for Bioversity-CIAT, “the accelerator programme contributes to more climate resilient, equitable and sustainable food systems by partnering with agribusinesses that promote inclusive and efficient food systems and better integrate smallholder farmers into value chains. The companies have been handpicked for their innovative business models that promote climate adaptation, mitigation, and productivity, strong growth potential and positive impact on gender and social inclusion. The companies are both traditional and Agtech that cut across various product value chains and, in some cases, other sectors such as finance, logistics and clean energy.” ‎

“The Food Systems Accelerator is of decisive importance to an agribusiness seeking financing to ‎develop sustainable products for food markets. 2SCALE’s unique farm-to-market based expert support ‎does not only accelerate growth of inclusive businesses, but it also helps them to create a mature, ‎solid investment case. With 2SCALE’s support in developing a strong ‎supply/demand chain, and investing in nutritious business case for example, the operational and financial ‎risks would be drastically reduced for the Food Systems Accelerator handpicked agribusinesses,” says Peter Kirimi, Snr. Financial ‎Inclusion Manager IFDC-2SCALE.      ‎

The CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator is part of Ukama Ustawi, CGIAR’s regional integrated initiative for East and Southern Africa. The initiative aims to support climate-resilient agriculture and livelihoods in 12 countries in East and Southern Africa by helping millions of smallholders intensify, diversify, and reduce the risks in maize-based farming through improved extension services, small and medium enterprise development, supporting governance frameworks and increased investment with a gender and social inclusion lens. 

Dr. Inga Jacobs-Mata, Regional Representative of Southern Africa for the International Water Management Institute and Initiative Lead for Ukama Ustawi, notes that, “the agriculture sector is a crucial part of the economy in East and Southern Africa, contributing 30% of the region’s GDP and employing 65% of Africa’s workforce. The CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator is a step towards reinforcing and empowering future agribusiness leaders to scale CGIAR innovations and reach the millions of farmers we need to reach if are to move the dial in end hunger and poverty in the region.” 

Hauke Dahl, Food Systems Accelerator Co-Lead, encourages members of the press to showcase the initiative, and especially the ten local hand-picked agribusiness champions from the region who will be announced on 22 February 2023. This will empower members of the press to get an opportunity to hear how their innovations are transforming the continent as well as to learn about the accelerator’s goal of providing agribusinesses with access to science-based research and innovation. The Food Systems Accelerator is made possible through the funding support of CGIAR’s Ukama Ustawi initiative, led by the International Water Management Institute and the Alliance for Bioversity-CIAT.  

Ends.

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