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IFC to fund Kenyan horticulture expansion into Ghana

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) will invest US$7 million to support Vegpro Groups horticultural expansion plans into Ghana

According to the Kenyan company, it would use the funds to develop a 1,070 hecture horticulture farm in the Ghanaian market, boost vegetable production and meet increasing demand from clients in Europe.

The project is expected to help in sustainable land development while providing jobs and creating a supply chain that includes small-scale farmers, officials said. Vegpro would work with 800 smallholder farmers in Ghana, giving them access to international markets for the first time.

IFC West and Central Africa director Yoande Duhem said, "Vegpro Group's proactive growth in Ghana demonstrates the opportunities for African companies in the agribusiness sector.

"IFC is eager to help companies like Vegpro that want to improve food production, and expand the African agribusiness sector beyond the home market."

IFC would also provide advisory services on corporate governance to help the group establish itself in the international market.

Vegpro Group business development director James Cartwright said, "Vegpro will apply the lessons from 30 years of horticulture business in Kenya, to create similar success and productivity.

"Crops like chillies, butternut and baby corn, which do not grow very well in Kenya will flourish in Ghana. Vegpro aims to train as many as 1,500 new workers to the sector by 2014."

The company would build on Ghana's policies that have helped improve infrastructure for agribusiness.

The new project has carried forward the investment relationship between IFC and Vegpro that began with the finance corporation's first loan in 1995.

IFC has since made a second investment in 2005, helping Vegpro's turnover to increase from $3 million to $100 million.

Vegpro is one of Kenya's top five flower exporters.