Supporting Local Agriculture and Farm Jobs in Africa
August 04, 2010
We are excited to announce that we are expanding our investment portfolio to include local agriculture in Africa through a $400,000 investment in Tanzania's Mtanga Farms Limited (MFL) as part of our Mission Plus portfolio, which allows us to take on investments that may fall outside of our usual portfolio guidelines but that we feel are worth it due to maximum social impact.
Located in the Iringa Region of Tanzania, MFL is a for-profit agricultural business that strives to increase crop production through improved farming methods and technology, share cropping, and farm contracting. Bolstered by investment dollars, MFL plans to start a seed potato business in which they will produce genetically stronger potato seeds to sell to farmers. Furthermore, MFL is starting an Outgrower Program that builds connections with local farmers by contracting parts of its 1,600 hectares of land for local farming. This program also provides advanced farming techniques, technology, and items such as fertilizer that are necessary for local farmers to thrive.
MFL can make a real difference for Tanzania, where agriculture accounts for more than 40 percent of the country's GDP and employs 80 percent of the work force (according to the CIA World Factbook). MFL's seed potato business has the potential to employ between 12,000 and 18,000 subsistence potato farmers in Tanzania. With stronger and more disease-resistant seeds, farmers can produce much more, thus increasing their income. Also, the introduction of the Outgrower Program will engage more people and increase employment in local villages. Investment from Calvert Foundation will help MFL grow to be a significant improvement for Tanzanian farmers.