TechnoServe to Help Implement Two New Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-Funded Programs in West Africa

Cocoa and cashew programs will benefit hundreds of thousands of rural poor in Africa

FEBRUARY 19, 2009 — Washington, DC— TechnoServe is an implementing partner on two programs announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The $48 million in grants will help hundreds of thousands of small-scale cocoa and cashew farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to significantly increase their incomes so they can lift themselves out of poverty.

TechnoServe’s efforts will be focused in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

The two grants—$23 million to the World Cocoa Foundation and $25 million to the German development organization Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH—were awarded in conjunction with $42 million in cash and in-kind contributions from private-industry partners.

Cocoa and cashews provide income for millions of small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. These two projects will help farmers improve the quality and quantity of their crops and provide them with reliable opportunities to sell their crops so they can build better lives for themselves and their families.

The grants are part of the foundation’s Agricultural Development initiative, which is working with a wide range of partners in 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.

The grants complement financial support and in-kind contributions from the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and local governments. Farmer associations will also play a significant role in leading training and knowledge sharing.

“Making real progress against global hunger and poverty starts with small farmers,” said Dr. Rajiv Shah, director of Agricultural Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Creative partnerships like these bring together the knowledge of locally based NGOs and governments with the technical knowhow and market expertise of private-sector firms, and have the potential to help millions of farmers boost their yields and incomes so they can improve their lives.”

TechnoServe will be supporting the World Cocoa Foundation on the cocoa project, which seeks to double the incomes of one third of (approximately 200,000) cocoa farming households in West Africa within 10 years. Cocoa is West Africa’s largest agricultural export, providing income for millions of small-scale farmers.

The project aims to increase farming household incomes through improved farmer knowledge and productivity, better cocoa quality, crop diversification, and improved supply-chain efficiencies. TechnoServe will work with teams on the ground to provide support in areas such as market linkages, and farm productivity and quality improvements through better access to inputs, finance and market information.

Africa is responsible for about one-third of the world’s cashew crop. However, a lack of cashew processing facilities in the region has created major market inefficiencies and denies Africans the economic benefits that accompany jobs in the cashew processing sector.

The cashew project, led by GTZ, aims to improve the quality of raw cashew nut cultivation, increase productivity, improve linkages between small-scale farmers and the marketplace, build African processing capacity, and promote a sustainable global market for African cashews. The project’s goal is to help 150,000 small-scale cashew farmers in West and Southern Africa increase their incomes by 50 percent by 2012.

TechnoServe’s role in this project will be similar to work it is already doing in the cashew sector across Africa—in particular supporting entrepreneurs to establish and build world-class processing businesses and improve the productivity and quality of their processed cashews in order to fetch higher prices on a global market, provide attractive and competitive local markets for the farmers, and to promote job creation in rural areas.

About TechnoServe: TechnoServe is leading a movement that empowers people in the developing world to build businesses that break the cycle of poverty. Growing enterprises generate jobs and other income opportunities for poor people, enabling them to improve their lives and secure a better future for their families. Since its founding in 1968, the U.S.-based nonprofit has helped to create or expand thousands of businesses, benefiting millions of people in more than 30 countries. The Financial Times has rated TechnoServe one of the top five NGOs for corporate partnerships. Charity Navigator has also awarded its highest Four Star ranking to TechnoServe.

For more information, please contact: Andrew Eder, Senior Marketing Communications Coordinator, TechnoServe
Tel: +1 (202) 719-1327; Email: