ABOUT three million people in Africa, including Tanzania, have benefitted from a donor-funded programme that builds resilient and regenerative food systems in sub-Saharan Africa.
Some 20 million Canadian dollars programme co-funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and AGRA, and implemented by Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) surfaced innovative business models best poised to address 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 marginalised sub-Saharan Africa.
The Agribusiness Africa Window—Round 2 (AAW-R2) Programme availed funding to 19 SMEs across eleven countries which include: Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Burundi/DRC, with businesses working in a variety of agriculture value chains, including maize, legumes, palm oil, bananas, cashew, fruits, sweet potatoes, moringa, livestock production, and digital information services.
The programme has impacted 2.9 million lives and 582,338 rural households, 60 per cent of whom live on less than 2.0 US dollars per day.
Victoria Sabula, CEO of the AECF said building resilient food systems is a matter of urgency and value addition it presents 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,” Ms Sabula said.
Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA, said, businesses need to recognise growth opportunities and have the confidence, financing, and capabilities to serve farmers, trade produce, and process food profitably.
“Farmers need access to appropriate, affordable technologies for producing resilient, quality crops and a fair chance to benefit from the fruits of their labour.
“Everyone needs 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,” she said.
Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya, Christopher Thornley, said Canada was proud to partner with African institutions like AGRA and AECF because their deep contextual knowledge 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,” he said.
The AAW-R2 programme has affirmed the 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.