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Southern African Food Systems Transformation Alliance Launches Today

Companies commit to collaborating on – and investing in – local sourcing to strengthen Southern Africa’s food systems.

Today the Southern African Food Systems Transformation Alliance celebrates its official launch at the Johannesburg Country Club. Companies such as Unilever and Freshmark Systems, representing 24 fresh produce markets, will be in attendance and sign a covenant to commit to local sourcing ambitions with an overarching ambition for having 80% of total viable sourcing to be from within the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region by 2033.

The Alliance, convened by IDH and U Can Grow Africa, is the first of its kind in the region. This is a business-led collaboration to invest in the transformation of Southern African food systems. Centered on the ambition for 80% of total viable sourcing to be from within the SADC region by 2033, the Alliance sets the stage for food companies to work together to unlock local sourcing and invest in the next generation farmers and food manufacturing companies

To support the realization these ambitions, IDH will setup a South Africa-based Investment Development Hub, comprised of grant and seed financing facilities. Grant financing coupled with technical support will be employed to develop early-stage business cases, while seed capital will be invested to enable scaling.

The Alliance is calling on funding partners to co-finance development, infrastructure, working capital and trade finance required to support collaborating partners across the value chain to unlock local sourcing.

Alliance Details:


Food systems in Southern Africa face enormous challenges. Most of the regional food and agricultural sector is largely underdeveloped, dependent on imports, and lacks the enabling environment to develop, scale and attract the necessary investments. While South Africa is the center of regional agri-business, its agricultural sector has two sides: highly developed farming enterprises exist in parallel with a struggling, emerging farmer sector.

With a rapidly growing population, food security in Southern Africa will become a critical risk, a risk heightened by climate change and economic disparities in rural areas.

These challenges pose real business risks but can also present significant opportunities. The agricultural sector is also the largest employer in rural populations and is a key enabler for creating economic opportunities and improving livelihoods. To future-proof Southern Africa’s food systems, investing in the next generation farmers and food processing companies is needed to support the increased industrialization of food value chains. To address these risks and unlock opportunities at scale, it is imperative that businesses work together.