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USAID, General Mills, and PEPFAR Partner to Improve Food Processing in Africa

Contact: Press Office, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), 202-712-4320; Public Information: 202-712-4810

NEW YORK, Sept. 29 /Standard Newswire/ -- On Friday, a public-private partnership with General Mills, a leading U.S. food company, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was announced at the closing of the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Health Initiative. This partnership will improve the capacity of small and medium-sized food businesses across sub-Saharan Africa to produce healthy, fortified food products.

The partnership links the technical and business expertise of General Mills and up to nine additional food companies and associations with up to 200 small and medium-sized mills and food processors in 15 sub-Saharan African countries, with the goal of improving those companies' ability to produce high-quality, nutritious and safe food at affordable prices. The partnership, which could potentially reach a value of $21 million, also benefits an estimated 1.6 million smallholder farmers who supply these businesses.

"This Partnership provides us with a practical way to further our mission of Nourishing Lives in Africa," said Peter Erickson, General Mills SVP of Innovation, Technology & Quality. "We have already witnessed the great things that can happen when we connect our employees with small, but talented and growing, food processors in Africa and we are excited to see this initiative grow."

A key component of the United States global Food Security initiative is to help countries link small farmers to local markets to increase family income and food security. By improving the manufacturing and business practices of these local firms strengthens the local markets and enables production of better quality food products at lower costs.

"This partnership ties in with our mission to stimulate economic development, improve the capacity of agricultural processers, and support the health and wellness of farmers and small and medium-sized business owners across sub-Saharan Africa," said USAID Acting Administrator Alonzo Fulgham. "We have high hopes that this collaboration will encourage sustainable economic and social growth in some of the world's neediest countries."

Through PEPFAR, America supports life-saving antiretroviral treatment for over two million people in Africa, but some of the patients are severely malnourished. As part of these patients' prescription, PEPFAR includes therapeutic and supplemental foods to ensure the effectiveness of the drugs, but sometimes has to rely on expensive imports. This partnership allows PEPFAR teams to source those foods locally, stimulating the local economy and promoting food security in areas heavily affected by HIV/AIDS.

"If PEPFAR HIV/AIDS programs and broader health and development efforts are going to be sustainable, they must be owned and led by partner countries," said Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. "This partnership with General Mills and USAID will support local food companies to help meet the nutritional needs of people living with HIV/AIDS, while bringing health benefits to the larger population through improved nutrition and broader economic development."

The long-term vision shared by General Mills and the U.S. Government is for the partnership to engage multiple food companies and food related associations, making available industrial expertise to processors in Africa. The core expertise of their food scientists, process engineers, and operations managers can transform the African agribusinesses, making operations more efficient and expanding potential markets and product offerings.

The U.S. Government works across agencies addressing health and development to connect General Mills and other partner food companies to the beneficiary small and medium-sized enterprises on the ground. Over three years, the consortium of companies is expected to contribute up to 218,000 labor hours worth up to $17 million. General Mills' total contribution is expected to be $5.4 million, comprised of cash and 65,000 labor hours. The U.S. Government commitment is initially expected to be $1.8 million, potentially ramping up to $4 million as more companies join the consortium.

For more information about USAID, please visit www.usaid.gov

For more information on Global Development Alliances, please visit www.usaid.gov/gda/index.html.

For more information about General Mills, please visit www.generalmills.com.

For more information about PEPFAR, please visit www.PEPFAR.gov.