15 October 2020
Africa Improved Food Rwanda Ltd (AIF) has just completed a strategic acquisition of business activities of the Rwandan start-up, Kumwe Harvest.
Over the past three years, Kumwe Harvest has introduced a series of novel post-harvest handling approaches to the Rwandan maize value chain. These innovations, collectively coined as the ‘Cob Model,’ have eliminated major quality challenges – particularly aflatoxin – otherwise forcing premium buyers like AIF to rely on imports instead of local sourcing. As a result of the “cob model”, local rejection rates for AIF have dropped from 90% to under 5%, and not only provide market security to farmers, but also boost their income due to reduced post-harvest costs, reduced losses, and access to premium pricing.
This acquisition reflects AIFs deep commitment to nutrition throughout the food value chain, both in manufacturing high-quality foods, as well as sourcing raw materials locally to support the most vulnerable: small-holder farmers. AIF has learned in Rwanda that to be successful as a food processor and to maximize impact on nutrition, investing and innovating in upstream value-chains is a must. This is recognized in the acquisition and in plans for AIFs continental expansion. Says Amar Ali, CEO of Africa Improved Foods Holding
Under this acquisition, AIF plans to aggressively expand the ‘Cob-Model’ both in Rwanda and regionally, while considering similar post-harvest processing and handling for additional crops. Cyril Khamsi, the founder of Kumwe Harvest, adds: “By successfully closing the gap between smallholder farmers and commercial maize buyers at scale, the Cob Model showcases the possibility of win-win disruptions in even the most well-established value chains. We are proud for AIF to embrace and continue scaling this innovation to the benefit of farmers.”
AIF is a joint investment by Royal DSM, FMO, DFID, IFC, and the Government of Rwanda addressing malnutrition and stunting in East-Africa through the manufacture of high-quality nutritious complementary foods while maximizing social, economic and environmental impact in communities in which AIF operates.
Kumwe Harvest was founded in Rwanda in 2018 by Cyril Khamsi, combining industrial processing/handling, high technology, and on-the-ground logistics to fully bridge the quality and aggregation gaps between smallholder farmers and premium buyers. Kumwe Harvest’s innovation partners include USAID, DFID, AGRA, One Acre Fund, and the World Food Program.