IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has signed an agreement with Twiga Foods, a Kenyan-based technology food distribution platform, to boost the company’s food safety practices in line with global standards and ensure traceability of produce from the farm to consumers. The initiative marks a rare move to apply global quality certification to food products destined for the domestic, rather than export market.
Twiga Foods’ innovative platform uses mobile phone technology to connect smallholder farmers in rural areas to informal retail vendors in cities. Under the new agreement, IFC will advise the company on food safety and quality management systems in its produce handling facilities. Twiga’s staff will also be trained on internationally-accepted practices.
The agreement adds to a $10 million investment in Twiga Foods, made in November 2018, led by IFC, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) and TLcom- a Pan-African venture capital firm to expand operations and offer new services.
Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu, IFC regional director for Eastern Africa said : “IFC’s investment in Twiga Foods will improve food safety standards while ensuring fair prices and transparent sourcing from smallholder farmers. We commend Twiga on their commitment to global best practices which will give Kenyan consumers of all income levels access to quality food products.”
Twiga Foods will work with IFC to coach farmers on agricultural best practices and ensure that products are fully traceable. The project will initially work with thirty pilot farms across twenty counties to achieve GLOBAL G.A.P. certification, the worldwide standard for safe and sustainable agriculture, by end of next year. IFC will also support Twiga on agronomic practices to improve productivity, irrigation, and soil health, and better access to finance for Twiga’s growers.
Twiga Foods’ chief executive officer, Peter Njonjo said : “Food safety is an important consideration in our mission to provide affordable, quality, and safe food to Kenya’s urban consumers, and reliable markets for farmers. We are therefore constantly reviewing our operating procedures, making strategic investments and striking strategic partnerships with institutions such as IFC to deliver and surpass global standards”.
By March 2021, Twiga hopes to have attained 100 percent product traceability and GLOBAL G.A.P. compliance from its contracted suppliers. The company is the largest domestic distributor of food produce in Kenya, handling an average of 130 tons daily. The produce is sourced from 13,000 farmers, aggregated from Twiga’s collection points across twenty counties. It is distributed to 10,000 vendors in Nairobi and neighbouring counties.
IFC’s advisory team works with over 100 agribusiness clients worldwide on energy efficiency, sustainability and resource usage. As of June 2018, IFC’s investment portfolio in agribusiness was valued at $1.2 billion globally.