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Danone and Mars launch US$120mn fund to support African farmers

French food company Danone and US-based chocolate manufacturer Mars will invest US$120mn over the next decade in an investment fund aimed at increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers in Africa

The Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming (Livelihoods 3F) will implement projects that will simultaneously restore the environment and put degraded ecosystems back on track while improving the productivity, incomes and living conditions of small rural farmers in Africa.

According to Danone, the fund will provide upfront financing and technical support to non-governmental organisations and farmers’ organisations to implement projects in the field. It will operate as a mutual investment fund with shared risks and results-based returns.

Victoria Mars, chairman of Mars, said, “The fund will initially prioritise key crops in Mars’ and Danone’s product lines that are dominated by smallholder production. Examples such as vanilla, cocoa, sugar and palm feature among the obvious areas. Other possible options include milk, fruits, mint and peanuts, among others.”

Frank Riboud, chairman of the board of directors at Danone, added that the fund will empower farmers, especially women, and improve the livelihoods of farming families in Africa.