Green Innovation Centres for the Agriculture and Food Sector (GIC)

Project description

Title: Green Innovation Centres for the Agriculture and Food Sector (GIC)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Co-funded by: European Union (EU)
Country: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Togo, Tunisia, Zambia
Lead executing agency: Varies by country
Overall term: 2014 to 2023


It seems paradoxical to state that the people who grow a large proportion of food around the world often do not have enough to eat themselves. Although hunger in developing countries has fallen by almost a third since 2000, the problem nevertheless continues to affect one in every nine people worldwide. More than half of these people are smallholders. Their meagre harvests are simply not enough for them to feed their own families and to guarantee a balanced diet. In addition, a huge part of the food is getting lost between the field and the plate – as storage, processing and marketing are not coordinated. 

Added to the problem of low productivity in smallholder agriculture is the fact that the global population is estimated to reach almost ten billion people by 2050. The demand for food is therefore growing inexorably. Experts believe that from 2012 to 2050, global food production will need to be increased by at least 50 per cent in order to feed everyone. However, the surface area is limited: measured on a per capita basis, arable and grazing land is becoming ever scarcer. The same applies for water. 

So how can we solve these problems? The key to success are agricultural innovations. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has therefore founded 15 “Green Innovation Centres” for the Agriculture and Food Sector – in 14 African countries and one in India. These centres are at the heart of the special initiative “One World – No Hunger”.  


Innovations in the agriculture and food sector have increased the incomes of small farming enterprises, boosted employment and improved the regional food supply in the rural target regions.


The programme coordinates its activities with local ministries and cooperates with programmes under the One World - No Hunger initiative, as well as with bilateral German development cooperation programmes.

Smallholder farms are the focus of the Green Innovation Centres supporting them to sustainably increase their agricultural production and income. A second objective is to generate new jobs in the area of food processing, ensuring that a greater portion of the value added from agricultural production remains in the local area, especially within rural regions.

The Green Innovation Centres promote the expansion of innovations by providing advisory services, organising educational and training courses, and facilitating access to loans. These innovations may be technical in nature, such as mechanisation within agriculture or improved seeds, fertilisers and food cooling chains. In many cases, they focus on new channels for cooperation, such as setting up producer associations, specialised enterprises or interest groups.

Whenever possible, the programme cooperates with existing agricultural schools, knowledge hubs and research institutes, such as the Africa Rice Center or the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. In addition, the Centre for Development Research within the special initiative conducts accompanying international research.

The private sector is also providing support: In Tunisia, the Innovation Centre has launched a training offensive in cooperation with the large Tunisian dairy company Délice. A modernisation project in India is being implemented within the potato value chain in cooperation with the German agricultural machinery manufacturers Grimme and Lemken.

The Green Innovation Centres are also engaged in cooperation with civil society and associations. In Mali, for example, a cooperation programme for promoting functional literacy is being conducted with the German Adult Education Association. In Ethiopia, the Welthungerhilfe Foundation is providing its support to strengthen farmers’ organisations. A transnational framework for knowledge exchange has been established between the rural women associations from Bavaria and Kenya.


About 8,000 jobs have been created. Around one million smallholder farms have benefited from training and advisory services and 130 innovation partnerships with companies, research institutions and civil society have already been established.

Examples from the project countries:

In Benin, the Green Innovation Centre provides on-site coaching within companies. More than 1,500 people have already received individual coaching, which includes subjects such as business management advice, accounting, the drawing up of business plans, developing visions for the future and establishing contacts with banks. This has already created a total of 850 new jobs, and several companies have been able to double their sales.

The Innovation Centre in Mali advises farmers on the use of innovations in irrigation farming. This has improved the rice yield by almost 50 percent (2.8 tons/hectare compared with 1.9 tons/hectare using conventional cultivation methods). Around 7,500 farmers have already received further training in the resource-conserving ‘System of Rice Intensification (SRI)’ method, which reduces seed use by up to 80 percent and water consumption by up to 35 percent compared with traditional cultivation methods.

In the Farmer Business School (FBS) in Tunisia, the Green Innovation Centre strengthens the entrepreneurial skills of over 2,100 smallholders in milk production. The farmers also learn everything about sustainable animal husbandry, such as automatic watering, balanced feed and how more field time can ensure the better development of the animals. The result is impressive – yields increased by 25 per cent and the quality of the milk improved as well. 

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