Cashing in on Africa’s food crops

AGRF 2020

One of the key takeaways from day one of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) is the discussion around value addition and agro-industrialization in Africa’s cash crops.

In Africa, one of the most pertinent challenges associated with enhancing value is the quality of raw materials. Too often, farmers and manufacturers invest more time and resources in the volume of output. As a result, not much focus is placed on value-added activities to support processing and marketing.

“There is usually a challenge when the raw materials are up to 40 percent imported as this would affect the prices of products,” Mr Fatih Ermis, Head of Agricultural service, Nestle Central and West Africa Region Ltd explained. 

Secondly, Africa must harness the competitive advantages peculiar to each region in order to provide more opportunities for adding value. In the wake of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), this approach will not only stimulate local demand, but it will also boost intra-African trade across the continent.

The role of innovation and coordination in adding value to products cannot be overemphasized. But even as producers navigate through value-added processing and marketing techniques, cost minimization and other factors associated with production must be achieved.  This is where the government and private sector come in. Both parties need to work together to create a more enabling environment by providing access to finance and basic amenities such as water, land and good roads. Adopting good business models such as correct grading and the appropriate use of warehouses will also ensure that all the hard work pays off.

“With one of the fastest-growing youth populations in the world, we also need more youth involved in agriculture. Adequate training and job creation will go a long way in boosting export revenue,” said Mr. Andre Ndikumana, CFO, National Agriculture Board, Rwanda.

He also stressed the need to find a solution that works for the smallholder farmers before aggregating commences.

Ghana is this year’s host for the most significant Africa-wide gathering of agriculture experts, investors and farmers. The 2019 edition of the AGRF is currently taking place in Accra and is set to conclude on the 6th of September 2019.