Business News of Thursday, 29 November 2018
The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), a Pan-African institution that invests in agribusinesses and renewable energy enterprises, has launched the ‘Seed for Impact Programme’ in Accra to support seed companies in West Africa.
The Seed for Impact Programme seeks to promote access to improved seeds by smallholder farmers to improve productivity as crop yield by peasant farmers continues to decline.
Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency at the launch, Mr Daniel Ohonde, the Chief Executive Officer of AECF, said the Fund, established 10 years ago, had mobilised more than 350 million dollars to support businesses.
He said Ghana’s agribusiness environment had become very favourable considering government policies that had been clearly outlined.
He said the Seed for Impact Programme was targeted at seed companies across 12 countries in West Africa with Ghana being in the lead because “we think that for agriculture to flourish, you need to have very good quality seeds.”
Mr Ohonde said for seed companies in Africa to grow, the industry could not be left to government alone adding that it should be driven by the private sector.
He said the Programme is focused on providing both technical and financial support to companies to flourish.
He noted that the financial support is to the tune of 650 million dollars running for six years and have received an initial funding of 10 million dollars from the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.
Mr Ohonde said the Programme would support linkages in value chains to enable access to improved seed for smallholder farmers across Africa.
He said seed companies in West Africa in need of funds could visit the website of AECF and apply for funding.
He said although in the past, the Fund had very little portfolio in West Africa, it had decided to increase its portfolio in the region due to a number of opportunities identified within.
Dr John Manful, the Advisor to the Minister of Food and Agriculture, said it was time the country cared about the wellbeing of smallholder farmers “because they are the people who had put food on our tables for years.”
He said the Government was fully committed to the Seed for Impact Programme because it would be of immense benefit to the Planting for Food and Jobs.
Ms Victoria Johnson-Chadwick, the Investor Relations Manager at Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, said seed was a key point for agricultural transformation in Africa.