Create enabling environment for agribusiness to thrive – ECOWAS

The Head of Agriculture Division in the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Ernest Aubee, has stated that, agribusiness development in Africa requires provision of enabling policy, legal and economic environment.

This is even as he said increased public and private sector investments in the continent was is critical

Aubee stated this recently while presenting a paper with the title, “Sustainable Agribusiness in Africa”, during an Africa agribusiness webinar”.

He said agriculture in the continent remains one of the most important sectors, saying the share of agriculture in continental GDP increased to 19.9% in 2020/2021 from 17.8% in 2019/2020 with agribusiness contributing approximately 25% of Africa’s GDP and 70% employment while agriculture based products accounts for over 50% of all exports from Africa.

According to him, agribusiness has the potential to drive socio-economic development on the Continent.

He said: “Agribusiness refers to the enterprises, the industry and field of study of value chains in agriculture and in the bio-economy. it refers to a combination of agriculture and business activities that seeks to achieve specific objectives of profitability efficiency and effectiveness and embraces the value chain concept of agriculture from production to consumption.

“However, challenges such as access to Finance for Small Holder Farmers; poor infrastructure from farms to markets, (Processing, packaging and markets), inadequate transport networks (Road, Sea, Air); limited agricultural technologies; availability of relevant Macro and Sectoral Policies and regulations to drive the sector; lack of commitment to Investments in agriculture in accordance with SDG, AU Agenda 2063/Malabo Declaration, ECOWAP etc.

“Also, there is limited local private sector engagements and education and modernization of Agribusiness in Africa,” he said.

profiling solutions to agribusiness in Africa, Aubee said increased public and private sector investments in Africa is critical, while building human capacities in agribusiness value chain, with emphasis on women, youth and the poor is necessary.

He stated further the need for promotion of value addition for agricultural commodities and investment in rural infrastructure, while at the same time creating crop processing zones not just export crops but for food crops.

He also called for improving energy access for producers, processors and marketers noting that there is need for promotion of climate smart agriculture and nutrition sensitive agriculture in Africa.

He pointed out the huge opportunities for Agribusiness saying the continents population of 1,401,745,838 (UN Estimates 30 May 2022) represents 16.72% of world population.

“The continent has 1,119 million hectares of agriculture land which constitutes 40% of the continent’s land area. Irrigated area stands at 13million hectares, representing 6% of cultivated area, hence investments in agribusiness is key in ending poverty, improving livelihoods, revitalizing national economies from post Covid 19 pandemic and cushioning the impact of Russia/Ukraine War on the continent, adding that the AfCFTA is a singular opportunity for food security, trade and development.

He called for the promotion of effective and innovative financing while up-scaling agribusiness best practices in rice in Nigeria and Mali, Cashew in Cote D’Ívoire and Guinea Bissau.

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