PepsiCo has signed an agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in a bid to to spur social and economic growth in 26 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean.

The partnership's inaugural project was launched in Mexico with an agriculture initiative that seeks to significantly expand commercial sunflower production. The project will create a sustainable market for sunflowers, while providing loans and a source of income for some 850 Mexican farmers and their families, the soft drinks and snacks giant said yesterday (22 February),

For PepsiCo, the sunflowers will provide a source of high-oleic sunflower oil for cooking potato chips, biscuits, nuts and other snacks that the company produces in Mexico under the Sabritas and Gamesa-Quaker brands.

The five-year partnership will mark the first time a private-sector organisation has participated in the IDB's innovative regional trust funds for development activities.

As part of the sunflower production programme, PepsiCo has committed to purchase 100% of the crop, for an estimated US$52m over seven years. Additionally, PepsiCo will invest $2.6m to support management of the Mexican sunflower crop and will provide technical training to the small farmers.

"PepsiCo has a long history of doing business throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and we're proud to demonstrate our commitment to this vitally important region through our first-of-its-kind partnership with the IDB," said PepsiCo chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi.