Feb 02, 2017 • By

The seeds of our food security work in Africa

When former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan returns to his native country Ghana, it makes news. After all, he’s a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

While I was visiting Ghana recently, Partners in Food Solutions (PFS), a nonprofit that originally began inside General Mills in 2008, was able to share a little of his limelight.


Annan, who graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, didn’t know until recently that he seeded the idea for PFS. That came through a conversation he had with General Mills CEO Ken Powell at the World Economic Forum back in 2007 when Annan challenged Ken to think about what General Mills could do to address food insecurity and nutrition in Africa.

The answer, ultimately, was to harness and connect the know-how of General Mills’ employees about food – from solving technical problems to food safety to product development – with small and growing food companies across Africa.


Jeff Dykstra of Partners in Food Solutions with Kofi Annan and Nane Annan.

Sharing the story of how far PFS has come (we’ve now worked with more than 700 African-based food companies) since that first conversation was the capstone on a year of incredible growth for our organization.

One of our biggest accomplishments was expanding PFS to two new countries, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

Our expansion to Ghana is giving us a chance to work directly with Kofi and his wonderful wife, Nane, who have spent the last several years promoting the growth of the Orange Flesh Sweet Potato. The easily grown and highly nutritious crop is starting to take hold in the country.

PFS was invited by the Annans to explore ways to help processors and mills use this crop as an ingredient, as well as to create markets for farmers and drive increased consumption of this nutrient-rich potato.


Nane Annan shows off packaged Orange Flesh Sweet Potato at PFS client, Eden Tree.

Our new work in Ghana and my time spent there with Kofi and Nane is just one small example of how PFS is forging new partnerships, to further our efforts toward improving food security, nutrition and economic development across Africa.

This month we announced the addition of our sixth corporate partner – Ardent Mills – a premier flour milling and ingredient company headquartered in Denver, Colorado.

The company, skills and expertise their employees bring, align very well with the kinds of expertise our clients across Africa are seeking.

We also recently announced a new partnership with TechnoServe and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This effort will be focused on increasing the availability of nutritious foods in Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania by helping close to 300 food processors and mills produce and sell fortified foods for local markets.

We have strong momentum as we begin 2017 and are excited about the many opportunities we have with our partners, volunteers and African clients to make a positive impact across Africa this year.

PFS is still powered by the tremendous support we receive from General Mills, including hundreds of employee volunteers. Together we are doing something meaningful and lasting as we work to improve the food landscape across Africa.

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