Summary of Outcomes of Grow Africa Sessions during World Economic Forum on Africa 2017
A. There is a need for a cultural revolution: to change how both private sector and public sector interact with each other and the demands they make of each other. Public sector needs to lead on policy reform for agricultural transformation.
B. Infrastructure investments in Africa should be smart and involve all actors. Further, these should go beyond roads and warehouses to energy and ICT.
C. Africa should not reinvent the wheel; let us borrow best practices that work in agribusiness. Africa should avoid the costly mistakes made in Africa and other parts of the world, and scale up successful models to transform African agriculture.
D. To be successful in building up young agripreneurs, we need to provide them with access to knowledge, business support, and other resources, including finance – to enable them to build viable businesses. We should also create an enabling environment that can de-risk investments in early stage businesses, and promotes pan-African peer learning among these young agripreneurs. Africa’s farmers are ageing, if nothing is done urgently to get young people interested in farming and agricultural value chains, there will be no food to feed Africa.
E. We should empower smallholder farmers to operate as entrepreneurs. This includes negotiating for good market prices to build viable smallholder-based business models. We need to reframe the narrative about smallholder farming: we need to position smallholder farming as viable enterprise and treat smallholder farmers as entrepreneurs in charge of their destiny. We should empower them to work as businessmen, or agripreneurs. They should not be on a lifeline from government, micro-finance institutions or off takers.
F. Multi-sectoral partnership and collaboration among ministers of agriculture, finance, industry and other related sectors will ensure that the whole agricultural ecosystem works.
G. Public and private sectors need to co-create policies and agribusiness initiatives guaranteed to succeed because they are aligned with each sector’s priorities. This collaboration and co-creation should extend to nation-wide initiatives that will drive agricultural transformation. Mutual accountability should be built into these policy and project frameworks.
H. De-risking finance needs an integrated approach and should involve various actors: development partners, public sector and commercial lenders to create an ecosystem that works, and allows banks to lend responsibly to smallholder farmers, and smallholder farmers to be profitable.
I. We need to shift focus from agribusiness to agri-food systems, and design “fork to farm” models that create a demand pull within the value chains for the quality and nutritious commodities. This calls for a shift from agriculture policy to food policy. Driving productivity of appropriate foods – from a quality, quantity and nutrition standpoint – will involve increasing consumer awareness for nutritious foods hence influencing what is sourced into the food system.
J. Closing Africa’s food deficit and food import substitution requires political commitment and integrated approaches involving public and private sectors. Initiatives include: restricting cheaper imports and allowing Africa to close the deficit gap through increasing production and productivity for already established markets. Changing consumer mindsets on quality of locally produced foods such as rice and processed foods through marketing and advocacy campaigns will create and sustain local markets for foods. Import tariffs will not work as they create inefficiencies. Increasing imports of farm inputs such as improved seed will contribute to raising local productivity and production.
K. Scaling up pilots involving smallholder farmers calls for comprehensive and inclusive commitments that have a bottom-up focus. There is a need to craft effective contractual commitments that will align public and private sector priorities.