In the past we have been treated to various talk shops on agriculture but after the conferences end things go back to normal without any meaningful changes. So when I heard about the Africa Green Revolution (AGRA) Forum I was curious to see what it would offer to the smallholder farmers. To my pleasant surprise, the smallholder farmer was the focus and was deemed as the key to developing the agricultural sector on the continent. This time around farmers came out on top given the pledges by the various partners of AGRA. Check out a few of the pledges.
The President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that the government will invest up to $200 million in a bid to enable at least 150,000 young farmers and agriprenuers to gain access to markets, finance and insurance. However, given how our government is big at over promising and not delivering, I will adopt a wait and see attitude on this. If implemented successfully this has the potential to make a big difference to agriculture in the country.
A consortium of companies producing potato products in East Africa announced that they have committed to purchasing 600 metric tonnes of potatoes per month to meet their rapidly growing consumer demand. The market opportunity for potato processing in the EAC is estimated to reach $ 1.2 billion by 2025. The goal of the consortium is to increase regional production and supply of this high-potential commodity by addressing bottlenecks across the value chain through coordinated action. Farmers will be assured of a ready market for their produce and processors will get a steady supply of quality potatoes. To achieve this, the consortium brings together farmers, inputs companies, processing companies, county and national governments for provision of supporting infrastructure and finance providers.
Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) pledged to finance agriculture business opportunities to the tune of $350 million. With this they hope to reach over 2 million smallholder farmers. $200 million will go towards improving market infrastructure and mobilizing farmers and $ 150 million will be channeled through the KCB Foundation to support livestock farmers. KCB will also work with the MasterCard Foundation contributing $30 million per year to help smallholder farmers access credit and market information via mobile devices.
The Africa Development Bank (AfDB) committed to spend $24 billion over the next ten years to develop agriculture on the continent. The key pillar will be Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation which is focused on scaling various agriculture technologies for millions of farmers. AfDB will also accelerate access to commercial financing backed by proven approached to reducing risks of commercial lending to smallholder farmers and other agribusinesses.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to contribute at least $5 billion to African development over the next 5 years. This amount includes about $1 billion which will be channeled to agriculture. The agriculture investments include crop and livestock research, strengthening data for decision making and improving systmes to deliver better tools, information and innovation to farmers.
The Rockerfeller Foundation will provide $130 million for its Yeildwise initiative which is directed by AGRA and other partners. The initiative is aimed at deploying better storage, handling and processing capabilities in order to reduce the significant post-harvest losses on farms due to spoilage or pests. This is important because in Africa, we lose 40 to 50 percent of certain staple staple crops post harvest.
The World Food Programme (WFP) committed to purchase atleast $120 million of its agricultural products each year from smallholder farmers through a partnership called Patient Procurement Platform. The amount represents 10 percent of WFP’s annual procurement budget. Ertharin Cousin, WFP Executive Director, announced that the Patient Procurement Platform would expand into Kenya and three other countries in 2017.
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will spend over $3 billion over the next 6 years in Africa. Its invstments focus on intensive efforts to generate jobs in farming and food production particulary for African youth and women.
OCP Africa (OCP) has committed to spend $150 million over the next five years to support local fertilizer distribution, storage and blending in Africa. OCP will focus on building fertilizer plants and is in discussion with 5 countries. This investment is expected to significantly increase access to fertilizer for Africa’s small holder farmers.