By OBINNA EZUGWU
The World Food Programme (WFP), the food-assistance branch of United Nations committed to ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition globally by 2030, has partnered corporate organisations in Nigeria to provide N120 million funding to six agribusiness start-ups, as part of its push to tackle food insecurity in the country.
The initiative is a programme of the Zero Hunger Roundtable, a public-private initiative created by the WFP with a view to bringing together key actors who can develop collective pathways to achieve zero hunger in Nigeria.
As part of the initiative, the Zero Hunger Sprint was launched to foster innovative approaches to end hunger, to be championed by Nigerian start-ups which would be funded by participating corporate bodies, including TGI Group, Heineken / Nigerian Breweries PLC, Promasidor, Tolaram Group, and Guinness Nigeria Plc.
The benefiting start-ups were selected after a pitching session during which a select number of 16 top innovative start-ups showcased their proposals to the participating private sector investors at the Wings Complex, Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue, Victoria Island, Lagos on Friday.
They include Zowasel, a multi-sided marketplace that provides quality crop testing and connects small growers to premium buyers, which got N42 million; Colourful Giggles, a natural baby food company which got N21 million and Agrorite, a solution that enables smallholder farmers access to credit, data advisory services and premium markets, which got N21 million.
Others are Koolboks, makers of sun and water powered refrigerators which also got N21 million; Pricepally, a digital food cooperative enabling families or small businesses to share or buy food in bulk from farmers, which got N10 million and Crop2Cash, a digital platform that creates trusted credit scores for farmers to unlock finance, which go N5 million.
In her opening remarks during the pitch event, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, one of the organizers of the programme, said the Zero Hunger Roundtable is a multi-stakeholder partnership of public and private sector actors brought together by “Our commitment to contribute towards achieving zero hunger in Nigeria.”
She said the objective to create tailor made solutions that will leverage strength and expertise to solve the problem of food insecurity in the country, noting that results are better achieved when public and private sectors are brought together.
Also speaking, Paul Howe, WFP country director in Nigeria, noted that the WFP as an organisation focused on achieving zero hunger, is relatively new to Nigeria bu has since realised that enormity or the challenge of hunger in the country.
Mr. Howe said the WFP came to Nigeria in 2016 with specific mandate to tackle hunger in the country’s Boko Haram ravaged Northeast, but soon realized that the problem is beyond the region, hence the need for broader partnership to fight hunger in the entire country.
He emphasized that if Nigeria were to successfully achieve zero hunger by 2030, it needed to have a network that is unique to it and committed to achieving the goal.