Unleashing the potential of agriculture markets and trade

Authored by Jerome Barbaron, Head of Africa and Middle East, Syngenta

Agriculture in Africa has the potential to not only feed the continent but to drive sustainable, resilient and inclusive growth. We are using our footprint across the continent to help farmers unlock that potential. Unleashing this potential also requires market and trade barriers to be lifted.

Agriculture is the main industry in Africa making a significant contribution to economic growth, livelihoods and food security. This is why it is so crucial to work with farmers to equip them with the tools and agronomic knowledge to be sustainable, resilient and competitive contributors to the market. Through our Good Growth Plan, we are striving to do exactly that. For example, across Africa, we have empowered over 3.6 million smallholders helping them increase their yields by 50% and trained over 500,000 farmers on worker safety. We are also working with farmers on increasing biodiversity so that agriculture and biodiversity flourish hand in hand.

Market access is a key challenge for the smallholders who make up over 60% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa. Through Mavuno Zaidi™ in East Africa and the Farm to Market Alliance, we are helping empower smallholders to increase yields and produce high quality, competitive products, that respond to market demands. We are teaming up with partners to provide financing solutions to help farmers access the inputs, equipment and services needed to grow their business. We are also providing training on good agronomic practices and helping link the farmers to market.

Another key challenge is climate change and its impacts range from the increasing frequency and intensity of floods and droughts, to exacerbating pest infestations like Desert Locusts and Fall Armyworm. It is increasing risks to food security and livelihoods – now aggravated by the COVID-19 crisis. Through our inputs and innovative technologies, we are helping farmers become more resilient.

In South Africa, we are using our AgriClime™ digital tool to help farmers offset the risk of adverse weather conditions during the growing season through possible cash back. We are also providing solutions at all stages of the crop cycle to Fall Armyworm - from the high-quality seeds with traits that are better able to withstand Fall Armyworm to seed treatment and crop protection.

So, what comes next? In addition to continuing to increase yields and resilience sustainably, trade barriers holding our farmers back need to be removed. Having the market opportunities to buy and sell as freely as possible nationally, regionally and internationally will be a game changer. By removing trade barriers, through initiatives like the African Common Free Trade Area, governments will unleash the potential of growers and the value chain across the continent. Having common standards and rules will also make it easier to trade. But improvements are needed in the implementation of those rules to allow trade improvements to deliver results. Let’s harmonize risk-based standards, registration and licensing systems across Africa in a simple, flexible, transparent, business-friendly and predictable manner.

To all those looking to make agricultural markets more resilient and sustainable – partner with us. To governments looking to shape business-friendly environments – work with us. Together, let’s unleash Africa’s potential.

Contact us on amecommunications@syngenta.com