Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Small and Growing: Entrepreneurship in African Agriculture

2nd July 2014. DG AGRI and DG DevCo hosted consecutively the presentation of the newest Montpellier Panel report "Small and Growing: Entrepreneurship in African Agriculture" and we thought this might be of your interest.

Professor Sir Gordon Conway, Director of Agriculture for Impact, will be chaired a session with a selected number of panel members:
This report was authored by Agriculture for Impact, an advocacy initiative that convenes the Montpellier Panel to encourage better European donor support for the advancement of agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa. The members of the Montpellier panel expose how investment in rural and food sector entrepreneurship in Africa can achieve sustainable food and nutrition security for the continent and significantly contribute to Africa's rural and economic growth.

Entrepreneurship is rooted in small farm agriculture, but it needs pro-active policy design and investment. Governments, donors and the private sector need to make these opportunities flourish by vigorously facilitating, supporting and encouraging the active involvement of young people and women.

To this end, the priority should be to support the creation of Rural and Food Sector Enterprises along the agribusiness value chain through:
  1. Strong vocational and business management training for young people
  2. Adequate and affordable financing for starting and growing enterprises
  3. Appropriate enabling environments for entrepreneurship on an individual and collective basis
  4. Political leadership that demonstrates the necessary vision and will
Launch of the report in London on 26/06/2014
Co-hosted by the All- Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development (APPG), the event welcomed a panel of experts to discuss how investments in rural and food sector entrepreneurship in Africa can not only deliver food and nutrition security but also kickstart broader economic growth for all.
  • Lord Cameron of Dillington opened the panel session by congratulating the Montpellier Panel on their work and introducing the many opportunities for the sector. He specifically outlined how smallholder African farmers could be on the cusp of a new era of higher food productivity and resilient livelihoods if supported sufficiently in doing so.
  • Building on this introduction, Sir Gordon Conway, Director of Agriculture for Impact and Chair of the Montpellier Panel, explained how this report is timely given the current attention being focused on market and value chain development in Africa. “Many people incorrectly think that African agriculture is outdated, difficult and non lucrative,” Conway said, but instead he pointed to several of the success stories featured in the report.
  • Jane Karuku, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Montpellier Panel member, stressed that these opportunities must be supported through facilitating better access to finance and business skills (e.g. arranging credit, drafting contracts). “Someone needs to unlock the sector’s value at the outset,” Karuku urged, noting that AGRA has worked with many entrepreneurs who “came from nothing to become very successful small and medium-sized enterprises.”
  • Daniel Gad, owner of Omega Farms, travelled to London from his farm in Ethiopia to share his experience first-hand with the audience. “African agriculture is a $280 billion business,” he said, but also warned that “Africa has almost become its own worst enemy” by not fully modernising how food and rural value chains are managed. He noted the rapid pace of urbanisation, fuelled in part by young people moving to find city jobs because of insufficient or undesirable employment opportunities in rural areas. However, Gad argued that investing in new training, technologies and institutional innovations – for instance, by organising farmers into rural cooperative models, creating commodity exchanges and collateralising land and harvests to access credit – could encourage young people into work across the agricultural value chain.
  • This view was further supported by fellow panelist Roy Steiner, Former Deputy Director for Agriculture at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He noted the huge opportunity of tapping into the talent and energy, especially of young people, to become entrepreneurs. “The young are incredibly well-suited to entrepreneurship,” he said, yet he noted that the farming sector still uses technologies that are thousands of years old. He said that entrepreneurship requires a sustained effort to provide training in order to cultivate trust and a sense of community amongst actors across the value chain.

Published on 24 Jun 2014

Published on 14 Jun 2014 Agriculture for Impact visit the Oromia region of Ethiopia, to see how the Meki Batu fruit and vegetable has grown into a self-sufficient, booming business, with the help of Self Help Africa. 

The Uganda Development Trust (UDET) provides business services to assist SMEs in order to improve their management, operations, prepare bankable business plans, and access credit.
  • Since 2001, UDET has forged a number of key, strategic relationships with donors committed to SME development in Uganda, and brought a distinct level of business development services (BDS) and funding options to SMES across Uganda, particularly in the area of agribusiness development. UDET is not a traditional agribusiness incubator, but rather a service provider filling a critical gap in Ugandan agribusiness incubation.
  • UDET started working with AgroWays (U) in 2009, where they found the warehouse to have insufficient storage capacity, inadequate grain cleaning machinery, poor recordkeeping practices, an erratic supply chain, and limited working capital. Together they produced a bankable business plan that was submitted to Stanbic Bank and USAID in 2011 which leveraged nearly a million dollars in trade finance, a loan to purchase a modern dryer, and $200,000 for constructing eight village aggregation stores throughout Uganda.

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