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November 28, 2010

AGRA, partners commit $42m to link African farmers to markets

by Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) together with its partners, are committing $42 million into a programme that will connect small holder farmers in Africa to local, regional and international markets.
The other partners are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Swedish government and Danida.

AGRA has said in a press release that it has been encouraged by the markets programme’s success in its initial three years and increasing demand for market services to join hands with the other partners for this latest initiative.

According to the press release the programme's activities support value addition by promoting grades and standards, facilitating development of  low cost small- and medium-scale processing facilities for drying, sorting and packaging; increasing demand for commodities by developing markets for alternative uses, such as processing cassava for animal feed; promoting an enabling environment by improving access to credit and addressing inappropriate policies that create major challenges for a variety of stakeholders across staple food commodity value chains in Africa.

The markets’ program is currently overseeing $14 million in investments through 17 projects in six African countries, expected to directly benefit over half a million farmers, it said.

Through support to the Cereal Growers Association, for example, a group of 86 women farmers in Kenya were trained in production and post-harvest handling skills and linked to World Food Program’s (WFP) Purchase for Progress.  They sold $400,000 worth of maize. Such partnerships will provide smallholder farmers a secure market for basic grains, encouraging them to adopt productivity enhancing technologies, produce more and earn higher incomes, the release added.

AGRA said Africa’s regional market for food staples is for example valued at $150 billion and demand is expected to double by 2020. African farmers could substantially increase their income simply by meeting this domestic demand, it indicated.

The programme According to AGRA is initially targeting 4.9 million farmers living across 13 countries, and it is improving the market infrastructure for Africa’s core food staples—cassava, maize, millet, rice, sorghum and grain legumes.

Ghana Business News

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