Agri-processing companies are at the forefront of building resilient and regenerative food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Agribusiness in Africa (AAW) round two Window a Canadian Sh2.44 billion (USD 20 million) programme co-funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and AGRA, is supporting innovative business models best poised to address the challenges faced by small and medium agribusinesses and agri-processors (SMEs) to access appropriate financing.
These investments have enhanced productivity, decreased post-harvest losses, diversified product offerings and created jobs in critical agricultural value chains, resulting in improved livelihoods in rural and marginalized sub-Saharan Africa.
In a press statement issued by AECF, the programme will avail funding to 19 SMEs across 11 countries which include, Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Burundi/DRC,
Implemented by Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), businesses working in a variety of agriculture value chains, including maize, legumes, palm oil, bananas, cashewnuts, fruits, sweet potatoes, moringa, livestock production, and digital information services will benefit.
The programme has so far impacted 2.9 million lives and 582,338 rural households, 60 percent of whom live on less than Sh240 (USD 2) per day.
AECF CEO Victoria Sabula said that building resilient food systems and value addition were a matter of urgency and present better possibilities for Africa’s smallholder farmers.
“This programme has demonstrated the essence of investing in close-to production downstream processing facilities that create markets and reduce costs for rural, smallholder producers while increasing incomes, impacting lives, and providing opportunities for value addition,” she said.
AGRA president Agnes Kalibata said that farmers needed access to appropriate, affordable technologies for producing resilient, quality crops and a fair chance to benefit from the fruits of their labour.
“Businesses need to recognise growth opportunities and have the confidence, financing, and capabilities to serve farmers, trade produce, and process food profitably,” she added.
This, Kalibata said, will however require everyone to participate in markets that not only enable the efficient flow of physical goods but also the right flow of information for buyers and sellers to find each other.
“These are the basic building blocks of any sustainable food system, yet in many countries, they are flawed or missing altogether”, Kalibata noted.
Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya, Christopher Thornley, said Canada is proud to partner with African institutions like AGRA and AECF because of their deep contextual knowledge that facilitates the achievement and sustainability of results, including increased incomes and improved food security.
“I look forward to seeing AECF’s growth as Canada and other partners continue to support small and medium enterprises on the continent, particularly those that are women-owned and women-led,” Thornely added.
The AAW-R2 programme lays importance of investing in rural agro-processing infrastructure at the farm gate which offers the potential to increase the volume and quality of production and create value-added for smallholder farmers further up the value chain.
The programme was originally expected to end on December 31, 2020; it was extended by 18-months to complete activities delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Agribusiness in Africa Window Round 1 was designed to reduce poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and commenced in 2014 and run through to 2020.
By Wangari Ndirangu