10 agribusinesses picked as first cohort for Food Systems Accelerator

The CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator Kick-off event took place in Kigali, Rwanda on 22 February 2023 to unveil its first cohort of agribusinesses from East and Southern Africa.

The event brought together a diverse group of companies scaling climate-smart innovations that address pressing problems in food value chains. 288 high quality applications were received and 10 agribusinesses were selected 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.

The accelerator program 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.

‎~ Mercy Zulu-Hume, Food Systems Accelerator Program Lead from the Alliance for Bioversity-CIAT

Meet the cohort

Farm Depot Zambia

Farm Depot is an established and reputable agricultural business that supports our farmers in their efforts to feed the nation.

Yellow Star Produce and Food Processors (U) Ltd Uganda

We embraces the use of pre-cooked instant ready-to-eat nutrient rich balanced products requiring minimal preparation and saving 50% of charcoal & firewood used.

Shamba Records Kenya

Shamba Records leverages emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence to digitize the agriculture sector from farm to fork. With our farm management tool, we track farmers’ yields and payments.

Afri-Farmers Market Rwanda

Afri-Farmers Market is a social enterprise that helps young local farmers to practice sustainable agriculture and have access to a stable market for their agricultural produce through our E-commerce platform in order to help them overcome poverty and ensure food security across Rwanda.

Zima company ltd Rwanda

We valorize farming proceeds that in the past were wasted (pumpkin seeds) and work with an out-growers scheme with farmers for seed production. We pay them a good price and allow them to keep the pumpkin flesh for food security and extra income generation.

M-shamba Kenya

M-shamba is a mobile based B2B platform that supports farmers to produce quality and safe foods thereafter buying this produce from the smallholder farmers and distributing it to the small and medium sized vendors in urban areas across Kenya.

Food Systems Accelerator 2

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 2 SCALEs support in developing a strong ‎supply/demand chain, and investing in nutritious business cases 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 30pc of the region’s GDP and employing 65pc 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 we are to move the dial in ending hunger and poverty in the region.

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.

You can also keep track of the Food Systems Accelerator upcoming call for applications and cohort details through following CGIAR on VC4A.