Sorghum project gains business and development award

The highly successful CFC-financed sorghum project in Sierra Leone, which has been a showcase as an innovative public-private partnership (PPP) initiative, received the 2010 World Business & Development Award at a ceremony during the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit hosted by the United Nations in New York, USA.

The award was handed out by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) to acknowledge the project's groundbreaking sustainable local supply chain initiative in Sierra Leone and the role of private sector initiatives' contribution to Millennium Development Goals.

The award-winning project in Sierra Leone was established in 2005 with the goal to develop a sustainable local supply chain for Sierra Leone Breweries Ltd (SLBL). SLBL trained farmers in good agricultural practices, organized bulking and transport and tested new sorghum varieties for better processing quality and yield. The sustainable local supply chain was established with cofunding from the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), an international institution that specializes in commodity development.

Managing Director, Amb. Ali Mchumo, said the Common Fund was very pleased with the award, which is a timely recognition of the institution's effectiveness in alleviating poverty in member-countries. The CFC, the European Cooperative for Rural Development (EUCORD), the implementing agency and local subsidiaries of European brewers Heineken and Guinness in West Africa, have been working with local sorghum farmers, purchasing the grain for their brewing production needs; and thereby enabling thousands of farmers to have a stable and steady income base. The project's implementation activities also include Ghana, as a participating member-country. In both countries, the project has helped local farmers compete against imported grains. It has raised smallholder farmers' incomes derived from sorghum, which has directly contributed to the alleviation of poverty for this critical group of farmers.

Locally produced sorghum shortens the supply chain and diversification of raw material sourcing, both beneficial to local farmers and SLBL. Reducing grain imports leads to savings of scarce foreign currency for Sierra Leone. More importantly however, hundreds of local smallholder farmers in Sierra Leone now have a cash income. This all led to the creation of solid relationships and trust between all stakeholders in the new supply chain. Heineken's local sourcing project in Sierra Leone is part of the company's Africa-wide strategy to procure at least 60 per cent of its raw materials locally. Moreover, the Sierra Leone case has stimulated local entrepreneurship, created hundreds of new jobs for local population and increased smallholder farmers incomes significantly, thereby alleviating poverty. Heineken is one of only ten organizations to receive the 2010 WBD award. According to the members of the International Judging Panel, Heineken impressed by demonstrating a clear link between vital business practices and the contribution of the project towards the Millennium Development Goals.

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