The executive board of the Common Fund for Commodities met recently and committed over US$18.4mn for new projects and activities to bolster commodity development in Africa and Latin America.


The board meets twice a year to evaluate, endorse and offer final approval to project proposals identified by the fund’s consultative committee, as deserving financial allocations from the fund’s resources to support commodity measures such as diversification, market development, and R&D to combat agricultural pests.


This year, the board financed five regular projects and four ‘fast-track “projects totalling over US$830,000, generally recommended and approved under the discretion of the fund’s managing director, Ali Mchumo.


The range of projects and measures will variously support the coffee sector, that represent a significant portion of the fund’s portfolio of project operations.


Chief operations officer, Guy Sneyers, says: “The coffee sector offers a number of opportunities to advance the fund’s work in diversification, value addition, research and development, as well as the dissemination capacity for technology and resource information exchange.”


The board allocated resources for new market opportunities and supply lines for cassava. The project will develop the cassava processing sub-sector for small and medium scale enterprises through public-private partnerships in West Africa.


Additionally, the fund has agreed on a co-financing arrangement with the Opec Fund for International Development, to boost out-grower schemes for export markets for horticulture in Eastern and Southern Africa.


In line with the stated obligation to finance projects that enhance farmers and small stakeholders “incomes, the board approved an important diversification pilot project for bananas in the Lake Victoria Region in East Africa.


With co-financing from UN-Habitat and other agencies, the banana project will link coffee farmers directly to markets and organise farmers into efficient suppliers of raw materials for banana and other fruit based processing companies.


List of approved projects in 2007:



    • Cassava Value Chain Development–Processing and Value Addition by Small and Medium Enterprises in West Africa (US$2.09mn).


    • Increasing Farmer Income from Banana-based Beverages in the Lake Victoria Region  (US$6.5mn).


    • Enhancing the Potential of Gourmet Coffee Production in Central American Countries (US$1.8mn).


    • Development of Market Potential for Gourmet Robusta Coffee – Gabon and Togo (US$2.5mn).


  • Pilot–Horticultural Out-grower Schemes for Export Market in Eastern and Southern Africa (US$5.6mn).


Approved Fast Track Projects:



    • Enhanced Management of Control of South American Leaf Blight (US$147,000).


    • Preventing and Managing the Global Spread of Cocoa Pests and Pathogens (US$199,000).


    • Integrated Pest Management for Cotton Weevil Control in Argentina (US$369,000).


  • Study of Domestic Rice Value Chains in the Niger Basin of Mali and Niger, West Africa (US$118,000).