AfDB supports SMEs in agric sector
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved grants totalling $740,000 for four small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the agricultural sector to support them in the implementation of their business models.
The grant forms part of a $23-million facility dubbed the Agriculture Fast Track (AFT) fund meant to support 17 agricultural sector SMEs in 10 African countries.
Tamanaa Company Limited received $220,000 to be invested in rice production and processing, while Farmline Limited Ghana was granted $165,000 for warehouse and industrial food processing.
Philafrica Foods Limited received $195,000 for a maize mill plant and integrated poultry production, while Techiman Processing Complex Limited had $160,000 for a tomato supply chain processing.
Part of the funds will also be used to conduct feasibility and market studies, research, development of business plans and the conduct of environmental and social impact studies towards the actual implementation of the projects.
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The United States of America (USA), Denmark and Sweden provided funds for the AfDB for the implementation of the projects over the next six months.
At the launch of the AFT initiative in Accra yesterday, the Country Manager of the AfDB, Dr Yero Baldeh, explained that the support to the SMEs formed part of efforts by the bank to support the growth of the agricultural sector in Africa.
He said while four of the 17 AFT projects would be implemented in Ghana, the other 13 would be carried out in Burkina Faso, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania.
“It is inexcusable that Africa, which has over 65 per cent of all the available global arable land and where 60 per cent of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood, is unable to feed itself. Put together, the annual food import bill of African countries stands about $35 billion, which is projected to rise to $110 billion by 2025 if nothing is done about it.
“It is against the backdrop of this statistics that agriculture and agribusiness lie in the heart of the AfDB,” Dr Baldeh added.
The AFT Coordinator, Dr Jonas Chianu, said the projects were a major step towards ensuring food security and fighting malnutrition in Africa.
According to him, there was the need for stronger partnerships to empower the private sector to lead the way in implementing projects that would help boost agricultural productivity.
Dr Chianu urged the grantees to be innovative and prudent in managing the funds to enable them to create more jobs along the value chain.
The Head of the AfDB Unit at the Ministry of Finance, Mr Emmanuel Fordjour, said the AFT was timely, since it was in line with the government’s move to transform the agricultural sector.