Experts explore ways for increasing investments in agribusiness

Driven by urbanisation, population growth and increasing food demand worldwide, Africa’s Agribusiness sector has the potential to grow into a USD 1 trillion industry in the next 15 years, from a current status of USD 3 billion.

A session titled Expanding the Universe of Investment-Ready Agribusinesses at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) explored the different strategies for sustainably transforming agriculture into a driver of economic transformation, combating poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and providing jobs and income to millions of households.

Speakers at the session affirmed that African agriculture has immense opportunities that remain unexplored for lack of proper structures and dedicated investments to support agribusinesses. "We need investments in everything that touches on agriculture. We must realize that without good roads, seeds and animal breeds, it is hard to lower the cost of production and compete with other countries in the export market," said Dr. Olegário dos Anjos Banze, the Vice-Minister for Agriculture & Rural Development of Mozambique.

In this regard, Hon. Clare Akamanzi, the CEO of the Rwanda Development Board recommended partnerships between governments and players in the private sector in agribusiness-related projects.

"For agriculture to become sustainable, we need to continue attracting the private sector," she said, while noting that her country, Rwanda, had made it easy for entrepreneurs to register and do business.

Other panellists lamented that most agribusinesses in the continent lack the formal structures needed to secure the interest of investors.

"Agripreneurs need to ask the critical questions that business investors want; in terms of management, expansion plans, gender diversity and so on," said Paul Ouma, a Principal, at CrossBoundary.

Ashley Lewis, an Investment Officer at Accion Venture Lab, Nigeria noted that by formalizing their enterprises, African farmers would attract valuable investments.

"There is an opportunity to create value, have exits and have a venture capital story in agriculture," she said.

The panellists concluded that by making agriculture more attractive, there will be a more meaningful engagement with the sector across the continent, improving the continent's economic wellbeing and food security prospects.

"The ongoing migration of African youth to Europe will be a thing of the past if we expand the universe of investment-ready agribusinesses," said Linah Mohohlo, former Chairman/Governor, Bank of Botswana.

The session also had insightful contributions from Donal Brown, Associate Vice-President at IFAD; Jennifer Baarn, Head of Partnerships at AGRA; Adrian van der Knaap, Managing Director of the Farm to Market Alliance; Victoria Sabula, CEO of AECF, and Frank Braeken, Partner, Black Volta Ventures.