SENEGAL – The International Finance Corporation (IFC) in partnership with agCelerant and Bank of Africa has invested US$ 7.2 million in a bid to boost rice production and enhance food security in Senegal.
The partnership is supported by the Private Sector Window of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), envisioned to help smallholder farmers and small businesses in Senegal’s rice value chain have easy access to financing.
AgCelerant is an agritech company that offers data-driven solutions and training to ensure farmers receive the financial and technical support they need to increase their productivity.
Rice is an important food in Senegal. According to International food policy research, by 2018, an average Senegalese consumed about 85 kg of rice each year, and the consumption is projected to reach 95 kg per person per year by 2027.
However, despite favorable conditions for cultivation production is still below par forcing the West African nation to import 60 percent to meet its local demand.
Senegal’s ministry of agriculture attributes the low production to numerous challenges faced by producers, including the poor application of fertilizers, a lack of harvesting equipment, and limited financing.
According to IFC, the investment is a risk-sharing facility to support the Bank of Africa Senegal’s lending to thousands of smallholder rice farmers and small rice-producing businesses.
With the funding, the farmers can then access insurance, inputs, and equipment, including seeds, fertilizers, and harvesters
As part of the agreement, the Bank of Africa will maximize the impact of its lending by leveraging the support of AgCelerant expertise in training and digital data help to farmers increase their productivity.
IFC will also provide advisory services to agCelerant to strengthen its agri-related risk management practices, support its agri-sector strategy development, and further enhance its digitization and value chain orchestration capacities
Abdel Zampalegre, Managing Director of Bank of Africa-Senegal said that the partnership aligns with Bank of Africa’s three-year development plan, which prioritizes support for SMEs in the agricultural sector.
Aliou Maiga, IFC’s Regional Industry Director for the Financial Institutions Group in Africa in his comment he said that the investment marries with pillars of IFC’s strategy in Africa which entails increasing food security through improved access to finance and supporting agri-business value chains.
In addition, the partnership aligns with IFC’s US$6 billion global food security platform to strengthen the private sector’s ability to respond to the current food crisis which has been exacerbated further by the Russo-Ukranian war.
The partners are hopeful that the support will help address the financial and technical bottlenecks hindering the development of a strong rice value chain and support increased local production.