Asda chief executive Andy Bond will today pledge to source an additional £30 million of fresh produce from African farmers over the next five years.

Asda’s announcement marks a step change in the way the grocer procures fresh produce from Africa, creating sustained employment with trading partners in South Africa, Kenya, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Burkino Faso.

As part of its pledge, Asda will increase the amount of Kenyan flowers it sources by 20 per cent by the end of 2008. It will also purchase more bananas, citrus fruits, mangoes, and avocadoes from African farms.

Bond is one of 80 industry leaders, including chief executives of leading global companies, senior ministers from the UK and leaders of global business associations, who are involved in the call to action to help develop trade in Africa at the Africa Millennium Goals Summit hosted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown today.

The debate, facilitated by Zeinab Badawi from BBC World, will focus on various new initiatives companies are undertaking to help reach the United Nation’s Millennium development goals.

Bond plans to say in his speech: “We are integrating Africa more and more into our business plans in order to increase trade with the Continent. Our pledge of an extra£30 million investment in fresh produce will help cement long-term relationships with African farmers and growers.

“We don’t claim to have all the answers, but we believe signing the Millennium Development Pledge is an important step. While the majority of our produce will always be sourced locally, as a major UK retailer we can help address poverty in Africa through the procurement of more of its goods. This in turn will provide much needed jobs and opportunities for thousands of people across the continent.”