JOHANNESBURG - The 2017 Africa Green Revolution Forum will be held from September 4-8 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and aims to stress the capacity of agriculture and agribusiness to drive inclusive and sustainable rural development in Africa.

The theme of the event is "Accelerating Africa’s Path to Prosperity: Growing Inclusive Economies and Jobs through Agriculture".

The Forum is hosted by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), an African-led institution focused on putting farmers at the centre of the continent’s growing economies, and is built on an alliance of partners that care about, commit to and invest in Africa’s agricultural transformation.

The partners include the African Union, African Development Bank, African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), AGRA, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), The MasterCard Foundation, NEPAD, OCP Africa Group, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU), Syngenta, and YARA International.

Agriculture is a dynamic sector, offering a multitude of opportunities for entrepreneurship along the entire agribusiness value chain, said Boaz Keizire, Head of Policy and Advocacy for AGRA.

“Africa’s transformation can be realised by catalysing an entrepreneurial environment that starts on the farm,” said Keizire.

Harnessing and enabling the entrepreneurial skill and spirit of smallholder farmers, young people and women in the rural economy should be at the forefront of every food security and growth agenda, he added.

“Inclusive partnerships along the agribusiness value chain need to be encouraged and strengthened.”

However, more research was needed to identify value chains that would deliver greater value, reduce risks and increase resilience for smallholders.

AGRA, in collaboration with governments in 17 countries, funded and trained African seed entrepreneurs in the technical and business aspects of producing, packaging, and marketing seeds in order to set up and grow their own seed companies.

The World Bank Group has increased its annual agriculture investment from $4.1 billion to $6.1 billion. 

According to a report from the Montpellier Panel, an eminent group of European and African experts, investment in rural and food sector entrepreneurship, particularly amongst Africa’s growing youth population, ccould do more than achieve sustainable food and nutrition security for the continent  as it can create jobs, wealth and robust livelihoods.

In West Africa, 75% of agriculture-related firms are micro or small enterprises, 20% are semi-industrial, and 5% are industrial. In Africa, less than 1% of commercial lending is destined to the agriculture sector.

However, in developing countries, where agriculture is a source of livelihood for 86% of rural people, financing for investments in agriculture is scarce, even for large investors.

The greatest challenge small-scale farmers are currently faced with is lack of access to finance as most financial institutions do not lend to the agricultural sector claiming it to be too risky.

AGRA’S partnership with the Ghana government to develop an all-inclusive agricultural financing mechanism will provide an effective framework for the Bank of Ghana to collaborate with commercial banks to lend at competitive interest rates to players in the agricultural value-chain.

- African News Agency (ANA)