ETHIOPIA – The Rwandese-based agri-food company Africa Improved Foods (AFI,  specializing in the production of fortified foods, plans to inject US$40 million into the construction of a unit in Ethiopia.

This was revealed by Ramesh Moochikal, CEO of the company, while speaking to the daily New Business Ethiopia on May 15.

According to Moochikal, this project aims to expand AFI’s presence outside Rwanda, where it currently operates a single unit serving countries in the sub-region such as South Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, and the DRC.

We are in the process of raising capital for this project. Ethiopia has a population of over 100 million, and many people struggle with malnutrition. The unit we will set up there will be entirely dedicated to meeting the demand for our products in the country,” Moochikal said.

Founded in 2016, AFI is a public-private partnership involving DSM, the Government of Rwanda, IFC, CDC Group, and FMO. It provides a scalable and sustainable solution to malnutrition via the local production of highly nutritious foods.

The company specialises in fortified blended foods, impacting 1.5 million people daily and making significant contributions to children’s nutrition with the production of cereal-based products such as Shisha Kibondo and Nootri.

According to the company, its products are distributed through aid programs implemented by UNICEF, the World Food Program (WFP), and the Red Cross, as well as through commercial distribution channels.

The Nootri range includes porridge flours made for the whole family. These products are enriched with the relevant vitamins, minerals, and proteins required for the healthy growth of children, produced from locally grown mixed grains of soy, maize, whole wheat, millet, and sorghum.

AFI has implemented a model to source raw materials locally where possible, enabling smallholder farmers to sell their maize on the cob immediately after harvest. This decreases harvest losses and improves overall quality.

Additionally, its FSSC 22000 quality system safeguards its pledge that its products comply with the highest quality and hygiene standards.

“We are the only company in the world whose quality certification is accepted by institutional partners without counter-auditing.”

In Africa, the market for fortified foods and drinks is still in its infancy in the agri-food sector.

Faced with the challenge of nutritional security which arises in several countries on the continent, the company plans to expand its footprint into Ethiopia in the near future, with plans to establish five more factories in Nigeria and Zambia within the next five years.

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