This article was sponsored by OCP
In an endeavour to strengthen food security and stimulate agricultural progress across the African continent at the same time as combatting climate change, two pivotal collaborations have emerged, emphasising the vital role of strategic partnerships and inventive solutions in tackling pressing issues.
Bridging the efforts of renowned entities such as the OCP Group, the IFC, the World Bank, the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB), and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, these partnerships mark a promising move in the direction of achieving SDG 2, which is about tackling hunger and making our food supply more secure and SDG13 on climate change.
The OCP Group and the World Bank: empowering West African farmers
The partnership between the OCP Group and the World Bank focuses on West Africa, specifically Benin, Guinea, Mali, and Togo, covering a vast expanse of 10m hectares. After the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 11 October by OCP Group’s Chairman and CEO, Mostafa Terrab, and World Bank Vice President for Western and Central Africa, Ousmane Diagana, the collaboration aims to accelerate investments and reforms, making customised fertilisers more accessible and affordable to 5 million farmers in the region. Terrab emphasised that these projects represent a significant step toward unlocking Africa’s potential in global food security.
“The goal is to drive a just and sustainable agricultural transition, by widening the access of farmers in West Africa to customised fertilisers that nourish the soil and improve crop yields, which in turn enhances the livelihoods of farmers, thereby contributing to African development and prosperity,” Terrab says.
The partnership aims to improve soil health and fertility through cutting-edge digital soil mapping and customised fertilisation techniques. This empowers local farmers with access to bespoke fertilisers that align with the unique requirements of their soils, simultaneously boosting agricultural productivity and promoting eco-conscious practices.
A significant aspect of this collaboration involves the establishment of agricultural technology and service centres. These centres are envisioned as vital hubs for the training and support of smallholder farmers. By providing access to state-of-the-art agricultural technologies and sustainable farming practices, they play a crucial role in increasing crop yields and fostering environmentally responsible agriculture.
Another transformative initiative is the launch of a Digital Farming School programme, which aims to nurture local capabilities and entrepreneurial skills. Through digital resources and tools, this programme has the potential to revitalise the agri-food sector, contributing to economic growth and self-reliance within West African communities. Furthermore, the collaboration undertakes the task of strengthening the capacity of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to execute its roadmap on fertilisers and soil health. This support is pivotal in streamlining regional efforts to improve soil quality and expand access to essential agricultural inputs, ensuring a sustainable agricultural sector for the future.
Lastly, the partnership is dedicated to supporting the establishment of a Regional Centre for Soil Health and Fertility Management in West Africa, hosted by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). This centre will serve as a focal point for research, knowledge dissemination, and capacity building in soil management, reflecting a long-term commitment to the region’s agricultural sustainability.
In essence, the OCP Group and the World Bank’s collaborative efforts constitute a holistic strategy that not only addresses the pressing needs of West Africa’s agricultural sector but also aligns with global sustainability goals, particularly those related to food security and climate change.
A vision for food security in Eastern and Southern Africa
Meanwhile, the collaboration between TDB, MIGA, and OCP Group extends its reach to Eastern and Southern Africa, where it aims to everage MIGA’s trade finance guarantees to deliver more strategic imports, including fertilizer, into Africa. Their partnership, driven by a shared commitment to addressing pressing agricultural and food security challenges, holds significant promise. It stands as a testament to the power of partnership across sectors and organisations. It aims to enhance food security, promote employment, and secure access to international markets for farmers in Eastern and Southern Africa. To put this into perspective, the MoU signed during the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings marks the further strengthening of a collaborative effort that has already succeeded in supporting transactions worth over $300m in TDB member states. This significant achievement has made it possible for businesses, financial institutions, and the public sector in these regions to import vital commodities essential for their food and energy security, foreign exchange earnings, employment, and tax revenues.
Innovative financial technology
In addition, this partnership is notable for its innovative approach. A milestone in this collaboration is the utilisation of blockchain technology for trade finance transactions. This transformative technology, which was responsible for three-quarters of the $700m in transactions between OCP Group and TDB in 2022, has not only led to substantial time and cost savings but has also made a positive impact on reducing the carbon footprint. This innovative approach, enabled by collaborative efforts, represents a promising step towards improving agricultural practices, livelihoods, and economic resilience in the region.
It is through such innovative measures that the parties involved in this partnership demonstrate their commitment to promoting food security, enhancing the livelihoods of farmers, and fostering sustainable rural development across Africa.
Achieving food security and sustainable agricultural development in Africa is a goal that requires innovative solutions, strategic partnerships, and collaborative efforts. The initiatives each detail unique approaches to address these challenges.
An agri-finance platform for a just African agricultural transformation
On 10 October OCP Group and IFC (International Finance Corporation) together launched an agri-finance platform to mobilise $800 million of blended capital by 2030. This partnership will build and support sustainable food production and distribution systems in Africa, contributing to skills development, job creation, and food security.
“The partnership between IFC and OCP is working to unlock the full potential of Africa to feed not only itself but the world,” said OCP Group’s Chairman and CEO Mostafa Terrab. By providing access to finance and skills training, the platform aims to strengthen 30 agricultural value chains across Africa through 60 agri-finance operations. These will cover a range of crop types and will address challenges holding back the sector’s growth and resilience.
The spirit of collaboration to meet the complex challenges of food security
The role of technology and innovations in recent initiatives underscores the importance of harnessing these tools to address agricultural challenges. What remains crucial in both cases, however, is the spirit of collaboration. By bringing together financial institutions, risk mitigation agencies, private enterprises, and multilateral organisations, these collaborations pool expertise, resources, and knowledge. This collective effort enhances the capacity to address the multifaceted issues that affect climate change, food security and agricultural development.
As the global landscape continues to evolve, the role of collaboration in achieving food security becomes increasingly paramount. It is through these partnerships that innovative solutions can be realised, creating enhanced livelihoods, strengthening economies, and contributing to the sustainable development of the African continent.
In a world where the challenges of food security are complex and interwoven, these initiatives serve as a beacon of hope, illustrating how collaboration, innovation, and shared commitment can pave the way towards a more secure and sustainable future.