Former US President Bill Clinton is involved in a $60 million joint venture that will produce fortified foods in Rwanda and help cut the country’s hurting trade deficit.
The factory will be producing mainly, milled maize (corn), processed infant cereals and fortified baby porridge and other related products.
The first product will be on the market early 2016, says Claire Akamanzi, COO for Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
Through his charity, the Clinton Foundation, Akamanzi said, has signed a deal with two other partners; DSM, a Netherlands food processing company and ETG, a regional agricultural supplier.
The factory, with capacity to process over 20,000 tons of raw materials every day, is one of the interesting deals Rwanda completed last year, Akamanzi said.
The country registered 111 projects, from which $549 million was invested in 2014, comprising of FDI ($213m), local ($159 million) and joint ventures ($177 million).
Meanwhile, Trade Minister, Francois Kanimba, said final products from the factory are largely meant for export. Only a fraction is for local consumption.
At the moment, the country imports most of the products, including powdered milk, soya and cereals, especially from Uganda, Kenya and Europe.
Currently Sosoma and Minimex are the only local companies producing baby food, but not enough for the demand. In 2014, 4.5% of imported products were fortified foods.
With a bigger factory, the cost of baby food products is expected to decline. The government is mobilising farmers to grow soya beans, maize and production of milk to ensure the supply chain.
“It’s in the agreement to guarantee raw material supply from local farmers,” says Tonny Nsanganira, Minister of State for Agriculture.
The Ministry of Agriculture will engage and support farmers’ co-operatives on increasing productivity in the specific needed raw materials, Nsanganira said.
Currently, with a recent credit line from International Finance Corporation (IFC), farmers are accessing loans from Kenya Commercial Bank to grow soya and maize, on a large scale to provide the first batch of raw materials for the factory.
Nsanganira says that the factory has created a ready market for their produce thus increasing chances of access to loans and increasing their income.