The stakeholders of AGRF determined that they would be best able to contribute to the implementation of the Malabo Commitments by coordinating their efforts around five thematic working groups or communities of practice that represent five key pillars of African agribusiness development. This alignment also incorporates alignment with the 2013-2023 AU-NEPAD CAADP Results Framework.
Results of the year-long thematic working groups engagement included the launch of a toolkit on blended finance released at the forum, strengthened stakeholder communities for the youth and women working groups.
The thematic working groups were conceptualized as follows:
AGRICULTURE INFRASTRUCTURE, TECHNOLOGY AND MECHANIZATION
Thematic Working Group Co-Chairs: AfDB & AGCO. Members:- FAO, AGRA
Efficient infrastructure, technology and mechanization are key drivers to increasing agribusiness competitiveness and modern farming in Africa. Public Private Sector Partnerships are needed for greater investments in agricultural infrastructure and availability of affordable technologies and machinery along the whole value chain. Equipment leasing should be enhanced as a model of ensuring youth and women have more access to modern agricultural technologies. More investments should target the development and utilization of integrated ICT-4-Ag solutions with special focus on youth.
CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT, YOUTH AND WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE
Thematic Working Group Co-Chairs: SACAU & IDRC. Members:- AGRA, NEPAD, IITA, FARA
African agriculture is dynamic and requires a diverse mix of capacity building initiatives targeted at both smallholder farmers and actors supporting them. This should include both long and short-term courses in aspects such as: agronomy, extension, as well as business development and management. This will prepare youth and women to become active members in agricultural value chains.
Agriculture must be made attractive to young people through creative programs and initiatives that clearly define profitable opportunities. Mentoring opportunities and relationships must be made available to young entrepreneurs.
MARKETS, TRADE AND DOMESTIC PRIVATE SECTOR
Thematic Working Group Co-Chairs: Rockefeller & AGRA. Members:- AU, NEPAD, AGRA
More advocacy and communication is needed to enhance regional trade and policy interventions that will spur growth of domestic private sector and agribusinesses. There should be adequate focus on agricultural value chains including livestock and horticulture subsectors. More investments and policies should be directed at incubating and developing local agro-processing facilities and agribusinesses run by youth and women. All stakeholders in African agriculture working with smallholder farmers must redouble efforts to help organize the agriculture sector into functional value chains. A strong continental network of the domestic private sector needs to be set up to give a collective voice to African domestic private sector actors to strongly and effectively participate as equal partners to agriculture businesses. countries/ regions (EPAs, AGOA)
Thematic Working Group Co-Chairs: AFAP & YARA. Members:- SYNGENTA, OCP, AGRA
The discussion began with an overview from AFAP’s representatives about the birth of the initiative out of CAADP and the focus and intent on strengthening the inputs delivery capacity found in Africa through the development of agro dealers, inputs traders, the improvement of inputs related infrastructure, policy advocacy initiatives, and the provision of catalytic risking instruments to increase the debt and equity capital available in select target markets to support fertilizer trade, in particular.
The African Development Bank’s representative outlined the institution’s commitment.
The Thematic Working Groups are meant to be inclusive bodies comprised of a broad range of stakeholders involved with each specific thematic pillar. Participants include: farmers’ organizations, private sector institutions, development partners, policy makers, research institutions, financial institutions, technical service providers, and civil society.
Aside from re-grouping at the annual AGRF, the Thematic Working Groups meet physically once or twice during the year (at a side event of another pillar focused knowledge or industry forums where stakeholders will be likely to attend and/or independently). As needed and collectively determined, they also meet telephonically and electronically to facilitate implementation of the agreed upon initiatives that are to be pursued/supported each year between AGRFs.
The Thematic Working Group Co-Chairs are selected from among the AGRF partners as follows:
Capacity Development, Youth and Women in Agriculture
In 2016, thematic working group meetings were organized separately over the months of January – May, and collectively in July during “AGRF TWG Week”. The inputs from these meetings helped shape and influence the overall theme and session content of AGRF 2016.
Infrastructure, Technology and Mechanization (alongside AGCO Africa Summit, January 2016)
Inputs (meeting alongside AMB Fertilizer Conference, February 2016
Capacity Development, Women and Youth (alongside CAADP Partnership Platform, April 2016)
Markets, Trade and Domestic Private Sector (alongside GROW Africa Investment Forum, May 2016)
Finance (not organized separately but met during AGRF TWG Week in July 2016)
Thematic Working Group
Target Activities (2016 – 2018)
– Need for quality fertilizer
– Need for improved seed
– Need to strengthen and extend value chain and develop capacity of hub-agro dealers
-Support hub-agro dealer development
-Support input policy development
-Support quality testing capacity
– Need for affordable finance for farmers, single digit interest rates
– Need for innovative products, insurance, guarantees
– Need for shared risk facilities
– Need to use technology to expand access through mobile banking
-Support development of lease financing
-Support development of mobile banking
-Support capital formation by farmer group through saving
Agriculture Infrastructure, Technology, and Mechanization
– Need to improve rural infrastructure, feeder roads, storage facilities
– Need to leverage technology: drones, GIS, mobile telephony – for extension, market awareness, to combat climate change
– Need to affordably expand the provision of mechanization services
-Support development of mechanization services providers (hub agro dealers key target)
-Promote ICT training in agri-incubators
-Promote farmer producer group training (cooperatives) in mechanization
Trade, Markets and Domestic Private Sector
– Need to promote regional trade
– Need to develop inclusive value chains
– Need to reduce post-harvest losses
– Need to promote processing and value addition
-Promote value chain development in selected sectors
-Promote engagement in existing supplier development programs
-Support post-harvest loss initiatives
Capacity Development, and Women and Youth in Agriculture
– Need to advocate for inclusive procurement policies
– Need to support incubation in agriculture
– Need to support development of farmer producer groups
-Promote affirmative policy development
-Promote affirmative fund development targeting women and youth