Given Africa’s growing population (estimated to double in 30 years time), demanding that more healthy foods be produced to meet the consumption needs of the people, experts are increasingly emphasizing the need to scale up agricultural production, as there are seemingly massive potentials of agriculture and agribusiness in the continent.
According to the incoming Vice-President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, African Development Bank, Dr. Beth Dunford, given the huge agricultural potentials in Africa, its agribusiness sector is estimated to worth 1 trillion dollars by 2025.
Dr. Dunford stated this while delivering the keynote address on the occasion of the launch of the fourth edition of Agribusiness Deal Room, held virtually on Zoom on June 29, 2021. The event which has the theme “Investing in Resilience and Sustainable Food in Africa,” was monitored by Prime Business.
It focuses on addressing challenges in agricultural lending to SMEs in agriculture and other vital sectors in Africa.
Dunford observed that the lockdown restrictions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic aggravated Africa’s already challenged complex food system, which is threatened by the effect of climate change, lack of dietary infrastructure and dependent on imported food. These together created a fundamental break in the progress of so many goals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Africa.
“The continent’s rapidly growing population projected to double in the next thirty years, demands and deserves that more healthy foods be produced and processed in Africa and more opportunities of gainful employment for all. So agriculture and agribusinesses have massive potentials to help meet these two challenges” Dr. Dunford stated.
She further stated that these challenges in Africa can’t be addressed without a robust and resilient commitment to sustainable agricultural practices in the agricultural sector in Africa. “We need to see massive increases in private sector investment in agricultural sector really all along the entire value chain across Africa,” She stated.
Dr. Dunford who noted that there is an annual financing gap of approximately 100 billion dollars agricultural sector-related Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the agribusiness sector across Africa, revealed that there is a growing “class of agricultural entrepreneurs (agripreneurs) who are looking for investments, partnerships, technical know-how, and financing to scale up their businesses,”
She noted that most of these SMEs are making progress in the production, processing and distribution of agricultural products, but more needs to be done to address the growing needs in the sector in Africa. She also stated that AfDB is supporting agripreneurs in solving problems related to the financing of agribusinesses.
The Agribusiness Deal Room platform was initiated three years ago, in Kigali, Rwanda, by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in conjunction with Alliance for Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), with the support of the Rwandan government. It is a matchmaking platform that convenes close to 4,000 stakeholders from the entire ecosystem to facilitate partnerships and investments in African agriculture. It specifically supports governments and companies with access to finance and partnership opportunities.
“Since its launch in 2018, the Deal Room has directly facilitated over 400 companies with targeted investor matchmaking and hosted more than 800 companies to explore networking opportunities,” a statement on the AGRF website indicates.
According to the Acting Managing Director AGRF & AGRA Head of Partnerships, Jennifer Baarn, the Agribusiness Deal Room has facilitated public and private partnership engagements jointly seeking aggregate capital of over 11 billion dollars investment opportunities.
During the second session of the event, one of the panelists and co-CEO, Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF), Agnes Dasewicz advocated for the need to render technical assistance to agripreneurs and also the need to empower women in agriculture and agribusiness.