3 AGRA-supported companies have been included in the London Stock Exchange book, Companies to Inspire. Out of 343 companies listed, only 11 are in agriculture.
Comptoir 2000 – Mali
CREAM OF THE CROP
Comptoir 2000 prides itself on improving the living standards of Malians on low income. It does so by producing crop seeds and then selling them in small quantities at affordable prices to farmers throughout Mali. “We’ve developed our own plantations and worked with a network of out-growers to ensure a steady and affordable supply of improved seeds to achieve better farm yields,” says CEO Issa Mory Dembele. This has been achieved with the support of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and private equity firm Injaro Investments. Comptoir 2000 has come a long way since starting out in 1990 as a distributor of herbicides and pesticides. Since expanding into the production and distribution of crop seeds at the turn of the century, the company’s strategy has involved tackling some of the biggest challenges facing Mali’s agriculture sector. “The main difficulty in the early 2000s was the very low utilization rate of certified seeds by farmers,” explains Issa. “To address this problem, we chose to make certified seed accessible to small farmers in small quantities, open outlets in strategic zones around Mali, use local- language radio advertising and create a network of 50 distributors.” The company has now set its sights even higher. “Comptoir 2000 has ambitions to be the largest seed company in Mali and one of the leading ones in West Africa,” says Issa, recognizing the latter goal will involve expanding into other countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). “Given the regionalization of the market, which allows free movement of seeds in the ECOWAS sub-region, the seed market will grow quickly,” he forecasts. “Other opportunities include the initiative, supported by ECOWAS, to boost rice consumption in the sub-region and the increase of poultry and cattle raising, which implies a high consumption of grains such as maize, soybean and wheat.” To help it capitalize on these opportunities, Comptoir 2000 plans to increase its workforce by 70% over the next five years.
Faso Kaba – Mali
SEEDS OF SUCCESS
Faso Kaba’s mission is to produce and supply better seeds to help prevent malnutrition in Mali and participate in the country’s development. “Not only do the seeds sold by Faso Kaba give farmers higher yields and increase their income through the sales of their products, but they are also nutritionally rich for both humans and animals, containing vitamins A and E,” says Founder Maïmouna Sidibe Coulibaly. The business, which Maïmouna founded in 2007, has received support from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and private equity firm Injaro Investments. “The support received from Agra allowed us to start collaborating with research institutions in Mali, which provided us with improved varieties of seeds,” says Maïmouna. “Through the partnership with Injaro Investments, Faso Kaba acquired seed production equipment that not only increased our production volume but also improved the quality of our products.” Such backing has helped the company to partner with local and international institutions, as well as gain the confidence of local banks. As a result, Faso Kaba has grown rapidly in recent years, more than doubling its sales from 700 tonnes of certified seeds in 2011 to more than 1,600 tonnes by 2015. The firm has now set its sights on increasing production capacity further, producing seeds that are adapted to West African climates and extending its distribution network. Government policies should help. “Due to the low adoption rate of improved seeds by farmers, since 2013 the Government has been buying improved seeds in bulk for distribution throughout the country,” explains Maïmouna. “NGOs are also buying huge volumes of seeds. These actions will create important demand and the seed industry is expected to keep growing in the coming years.”
Nafaso – Burkina Faso
YIELD OF DREAMS
“Contribute to the availability of food resources in Burkina Faso and in West Africa, thus helping to reduce hunger and poverty.” That’s how CEO Abdoulaye Sawadogo describes the overarching goal of Neema Agricole du Faso (NAFASO), which specializes in the production and sale of a wide range of improved seeds, including cereals, oil seeds, market gardening, fodder and tuber seeds. The firm, founded in 2008, says the certified seeds it produces can improve agricultural yields by up to 40%. The company has achieved strong growth during its relatively short history. From starting off with 10 full-time employees, the business now employs 36 staff and, from initially producing 100 tonnes of seed, now expects to produce around 5,000 tonnes for the upcoming season. Access to other companies in the surrounding West Africa region, along with partnerships with research centres and investment from private equity firm Injaro Investments, has helped the Burkina Faso-based firm to grow. “These opportunities have enabled NAFASO to significantly increase production capacity, through the acquisition of a state-of-the-art mobile cleaning and packaging unit, the construction of a store, improved organizational and management systems and developing new markets,” says Abdoulaye. NAFASO is now looking to double production to 10,000 tonnes by 2020 and hire more staff, as well as expand its offering. “Our objectives are to recruit a dozen technicians for field monitoring and set up our own laboratory and breeders to create our own varieties,” explains Abdoulaye. “We also aim to increase the number of producers who are members of our network by around 15% and to create an agricultural training centre for African youth.” The business is also committed to playing its part in tackling the wider issues facing Africa. “The two major challenges that Africa will face in the future are climate change and rapid demographic growth,” says Abdoulaye. “Our job will be to raise awareness and to produce seeds adapted to the effects of climate change.”
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