IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Private Sector Window of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), yesterday announced a €20 million investment in Soufflet Malt Ethiopia to help the company build and operate a malting plant in Ethiopia, supporting local farmers and economic growth.

The greenfield investment will help Soufflet Malt Ethiopia, a subsidiary of French company Groupe Soufflet, modernize Ethiopia’s malt supply chain and boost local production of the key beer ingredient.

The malting plant, in Addis Ababa’s Lemi Industrial Park, is expected to produce 110,000 metric tons of malt annually.

IFC and the GAFSP Private Sector Window are each investing €10 million in the project, said IFC in a statement.

Jean-Michel Soufflet, Chairman of Groupe Soufflet, said, “This is Groupe Soufflet’s first investment in sub-Saharan Africa and marks a strategic milestone for the company. IFC has been a strategic partner of our group for many years, and IFC’s support is very valuable for the success of our greenfield investment in Ethiopia.

We are also counting on IFC’s expertise in agribusiness to help us put in place an extensive network of barley farmers and improve agricultural productivity in Ethiopia.”

Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu, IFC Regional Director for Eastern Africa, said, “IFC’s investment in Soufflet Malt Ethiopia will boost local malt sourcing by helping smallholder farmers increase productivity, strengthening the country’s agricultural supply chain. Supporting agriculture is a major focus of IFC’s strategy in Ethiopia.”

IFC, a long-standing partner with Groupe Soufflet, will also provide advisory services to about 40,000 smallholder barley farmers to strengthen their links to the malt supply chain. The longer-term goal is to help double their yields.

Soufflet Ethiopia plans to source 100 percent of its barley locally, with 80 percent from smallholder farmers. Currently, about 70 percent of the malt used by Ethiopian brewers is imported, FBC reported.

Groupe Soufflet is active in 22 countries in Asia, Europe, and South America.