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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Agribusiness can help to unlock the true potential of Africa.

Agribusiness can help to unlock the true potential of Africa. The challenges faced by small farmers are similar across the developing world – pests, diseases and climate change. Yet in Africa the challenges are even greater. If farmers are to survive at current rates (let alone grow), they need to have access to high-yielding seeds, effective fertilizers and irrigation technologies. These issues threaten the region’s ability to feed itself and make business-growth and export markets especially difficult to reach. Other factors include the rise in global food prices and export subsidies for exporters in the developed economies, which leave African farmers struggling to price competitively. Organizations such as The International Finance Corporation (IFC) provide and mobilize capital, knowledge and long-term partnerships in agribusiness. It has provided over $25 billion in financing, mobilized investments from partners and provided advisory services across the continent. Connecting the private sector with global and regional NGO’s and the public sector is one of the most important steps. Of the $3.7 billion invested in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2015 by the IFC, $1.8 billion came from other investors. Modernization of technologies, innovative technologies and widening access to markets is central to turning such huge sums of money into results. In Kenya, a mobile app called M-Farm allows farmers to directly send messages requesting guidance and data on crop prices. It also helps farmers to connect directly with food suppliers; thus reducing reliance on middlemen and market buyers. Cutting costs in this way can go some way to mitigating the impact of subsidized exports from the developed economies. continue