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TechnoServe, Gates and Coke Link Up With Farmers

Note: I am an employee of TechnoServe and have used the release issued today to report on this exciting news. I will work with NextBillion to report on the progress of this partnership in the coming months and years.

The Coca-Cola Company, nonprofit TechnoServe, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today launched a partnership to enable over 50,000 small fruit farmers in Uganda and Kenya to increase their productivity and double their incomes by 2014.

This four-year, $11.5 million partnership will enable mango and passion fruit farmers to participate in the Company’s supply chain for the first time. With a $7.5 million grant provided by the Gates Foundation to TechnoServe, $3 million provided by The Coca-Cola Company, and $1 million by bottling partner Coca-Cola Sabco, the project aims to create new market opportunities for local farmers whose fruit will be used for Coca-Cola’s locally-produced and sold fruit juices. As the implementing partner, Technoserve will train participating farmers in improving quality, increasing production, getting organized into farmer groups, and will facilitate access to credit.

“This partnership is a great example of sustainability. By partnering with tens of thousands of local farmers, we can help increase their incomes while meeting our needs for locally sourced fruit, benefiting both the community and our business,” says Nathan Kalumbu, Coca Cola’s East & Central Africa business unit president.

As global and local demand for fruit juice grows, there is a critical need to increase production. Small farmers can benefit from this increased demand by supplying fruit that meets the needs of local buyers such as Coca-Cola. Through this partnership, farmers who were previously unable to access this market opportunity will be provided with the tools to do so. This partnership will also serve as a model for Coca-Cola as it grows its juice business in other markets and has been designed to be easily replicated.

“This partnership is the type of innovative approach needed to foster economic empowerment across the globe and we are proud to be a part of this effort in East Africa,” says Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. “We and our partners the Gates Foundation and Technoserve believe that investing in farmers is a proven strategy to reduce poverty and build sustainable communities.”

“Empowering small farmers to increase productivity, improve crop quality and access reliable markets is critical to addressing global hunger and poverty,” says Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Global Development Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation has committed more than $1.4 billion, focused on Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, to strengthen the entire agricultural value chain-from seeds and soil to farm management and market access-so that progress against hunger and poverty is sustainable over the long term. “Partnerships like this provide farmers with the tools and resources that can help revitalize African agriculture and increase opportunities for small farmers so they build better lives for themselves and their families.”

TechnoServe’s implementation of this partnership will build on a track record of similar partnerships underway across Africa including banana, cashews, cocoa and coffee. They will ensure that sustainable environmental and social standards are embedded into the program at the farm level.

“We are honored to be a part of this innovative collaboration, as it represents a significant step forward for private sector development in Africa,” says TechnoServe President and CEO Bruce McNamer. “This investment will drive momentum toward reducing poverty across Africa by helping entrepreneurial farmers connect to markets and get the support they need.”

This project will be implemented in close collaboration with the governments of Kenya and Uganda, given its significance in the context of their poverty reduction strategies. It is intended to produce lasting benefits for participating farm communities, enabling them to benefit from improved livelihoods for many years to come.

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