The Agriculture Fast Track Fund (AFT), hosted by the African Development Bank, has announced $ 3,390,000 funding for 17 new small and medium enterprises in the agriculture sector as part of its transformative support for food security, income enhancement, job creation, and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Africa.
The funding, provided by the African Development Bank and partners, was announced in Accra, Ghana, on Wednesday in support of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the agribusiness sector in eight African countries – Ghana (4), Tanzania (4), Burkina Faso (2), Malawi (2), Mozambique (2), Ethiopia (1), Nigeria (1) and Senegal (1).
Wil Ofori’s firm, Techiman Processing Complex Ltd (TEPCO), received a grant of US$160,000 for feasibility studies, marketing, as well as value chain/value addition studies.
He said: “TEPCO is highly elated over this grant, which will provide us with more bankable business plans to access more funding from commercial financial institutions. It is for us a dream come true and we are optimistic that it will pave the way for the company to achieve tremendous success.”
AFT Coordinator Jonas Chianu said the Fund provided grants that enabled SMEs to conduct project preparation studies to eliminate barriers to take-off, thereby developing a pipeline of bankable projects.
The Fund finances the project development cost of a broad range of agriculture infrastructure, spanning the entire value chain − from production to the market. Target projects range from rural feeder roads to irrigation, agro-processing and marketing facilities, and outgrower schemes.
“AFT is an incentive that enables us to harness our potential. In our environment, access to agricultural finance is scarce. We need incentives such as the AFT to harness all our potential,” said one of the recipients, Cheikh Eteka Traore, president of GOA Trading Nigeria.
Yero Baldeh, the African Development Bank’s country manager for Ghana, noted that the development of agriculture and agribusiness lies at the heart of the Bank’s priorities in Africa.
“However, relatively low productivity, under-utilized agricultural land, infrastructural deficiency, and lost opportunities for value addition, have perpetuated poverty and food insecurity in the continent. The emerging wide-reaching food shortages have led to food crises and restiveness in many regions,” Baldeh said.
“Over the past five years the Fund has successfully supported some private sector-managed SMEs that have grown to be impactful in promoting food security, income advancement and job creation for smallholders, including women and the youth, in different regions of Ghana.”
Ouedraogo Moussa, a recipient from the National Tree Seed Center of Burkina Faso, said: “The AFT Fund has offered me an opportunity to think differently about tree planting and how to create wealth from tree seeds/seedling production and tree planting. With this grant, I’m thinking big and looking at the bigger picture now.”
The AFT Fund is managed by the Agriculture and Agro-Industry Department of the African Development Bank and supports the development of a strong pipeline of bankable agriculture infrastructure projects and assists African agribusiness SMEs in project preparation activities to ease their take-off. The Fund is supported by the governments of the USA (through USAID), Denmark (through DANIDA) and Sweden (through Sida).