This story was originally published on the IFC website.
To boost rice production and enhance food security in Senegal, IFC today announced a partnership with agCelerant and Bank of Africa to help smallholder farmers and small businesses in Senegal's rice value chain more easily access financing for growth.
Under the partnership, which is supported by the Private Sector Window of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), IFC will invest the local currency equivalent of $7.2 million in a risk-sharing facility to support Bank of Africa-Senegal's lending to thousands of smallholder rice farmers and small rice producing businesses, helping them access insurance, inputs, and equipment, including seeds, fertilizers, and harvesters.
Bank of Africa will maximize the impact of its lending by leveraging the support of agCelerant, 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. The technology platform used by agCelerant was developed by Manobi Africa, a Mauritius-based digital company focusing on the water, energy, and agricultural sectors in Africa.
IFC will also provide advisory services to agCelerant to strengthen its agri-related risk management practices, support its agri-sector strategy development, and to further enhance its digitization and value chain orchestration capacities.
"This partnership aligns with Bank of Africa's three-year development plan, which prioritizes support for SMEs in the agricultural sector," said Abdel Zampalegre, Managing Director of Bank of Africa-Senegal. "The financing will help increase the supply of local rice and support local value chains. It is also a strong step to strengthen food sovereignty in Senegal which is a key priority for the government."
"Senegal's dependence on food imports is unsustainable. We are proud to partner with IFC and Bank of Africa to de-risk agri-businesses financing and empower local value chains, paving the way for food sovereignty in Senegal. However successful we are in digitalizing the last mile, investments must flow to transform agriculture," said Daniel Annerose, CEO of agCelerant Senegal and Manobi Africa.
"Increasing food security through improved access to finance and supporting agri-business value chains are two pillars of IFC's strategy in Africa," said Aliou Maiga, IFC's Regional Industry Director for the Financial Institutions Group in Africa. "We are proud to deepen our long-standing partnership with Bank of Africa and leverage agCelerant's innovative digital approach through this pilot to build a sustainable solution to Senegal's dependence on imports and improve the resilience of its food system."
Rice is a hugely important food in Senegal. However, despite favorable conditions for cultivation, the country still imports 60 percent of the rice it consumes. Producers face numerous challenges, including the poor application of fertilizers, a lack of harvesting equipment, and limited financing.
IFC's support will help address the financial and technical bottlenecks hindering the development of a strong rice value chain and support increased local production.
This new partnership aligns with IFC's $6 billion global food security platform to strengthen the private sector's ability to respond to the current food crisis and help support food production in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine which has further exacerbated the global food insecurity situation.