A Kenyan-based technology food distribution platform is to receive help to boost food safety practices and ensure traceability of produce from the farm to consumers.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, signed an agreement with Twiga Foods to apply global quality certification to food products for the domestic, rather than export market.

Twiga Foods’ platform uses mobile phone technology to connect smallholder farmers in rural areas to informal retail vendors in cities. Under the agreement, IFC will advise the company on food safety and quality management systems in produce handling facilities.

Investing to improve produce safety
Twiga Foods is a large domestic distributor of produce in Kenya, handling an average of 130 tons daily. Produce is sourced from 13,000 farmers, aggregated from Twiga’s collection points across 20 counties and distributed to 10,000 vendors in Nairobi and neighboring counties.

“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, that will give Kenyan consumers of all income levels access to quality food products,” said Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu, IFC regional director for Eastern Africa.

The agreement adds to a $10 million investment made in November 2018, led by IFC, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) and TLcom- a Pan-African venture capital firm.

The project will work with 30 pilot farms across 20 counties to achieve GLOBAL G.A.P. certification by the end of next year. By March 2021, Twiga hopes to have full product traceability and GLOBAL G.A.P. compliance from contracted suppliers.

Twiga Foods’ chief executive officer, Peter Njonjo, said food safety was an important consideration in providing affordable and safe food to Kenya’s urban consumers, and reliable markets for farmers.

“This is the reason we are constantly reviewing our operating procedures, making strategic investments and striking strategic partnerships with institutions such as IFC to deliver and surpass global standards,” he said.

Improving standards in West Africa
Meanwhile, IFC is helping improve food safety standards in West Africa, working with retailers, hoteliers, producers, regulators, and others to implement better systems to reduce foodborne illness.

Food safety systems and regulations are weak in most African countries. Unsafe food can create serious health risks for consumers, while hurting the brand and bottom line of food companies.

Olivier Buyoya, IFC country manager for Côte d’Ivoire, said: “Complying with international food safety standards helps West African companies in the agribusiness and tourism sectors attract investment and demonstrate their commitment to their customers.”

The member of the World Bank Group, Government of Japan, and Ingenierie Conseil Audit Formation (ICAF) hosted a one-day forum in Abidjan to discuss how international-standard food safety practices can support business growth, create jobs, and consumers in West Africa.

Mossadeck Bally, CEO of hotel chain Azalai Group, which is supported by IFC’s food safety advisory program in Côte d’Ivoire, said the quality of cuisine is vital to client satisfaction.

“Implementing global best food safety standards and practices is critical for Azalai Group as we strengthen our position as a leader in the West African hotel industry.”

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