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Page last updated at Wednesday, September 5, 2012 17:17 PM //

Madam Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Regional Director for Africa, on Tuesday called for collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors towards the growth and development of agriculture as business in Africa.

She explained that the FAO estimated a total amount of $940 billion was needed as the cumulative public and private investments capital required in Africa?s agricultural sector development until 2050.

According to her ?almost half of the amount ($444 billion) is required in agribusiness and agro-industries capital outlays, covering items such as dry and cold storage, rural and wholesale market facilities and primary processing/value addition?.

Madam Semedo was addressing an FAO international workshop on the theme: ?Institutional Support for inclusive Agribusiness and Agro-Industries Development in Sub Saharan Africa? .

The workshop was attended by Directors of veterinary services and Epidemiologists in the West African Sub region to map out a regional strategy for the prevention and control of African swine fever as individual country efforts to control the disease is extremely difficult if not impossible due to trans-boundary movements of livestock.

Madam Semedo said: ?The remaining 496 billion will be required in primary production (agriculture and livestock production) rural infrastructure, especially roads, are also a key element and not even covered in this estimate.?

According to her, since the public sector alone cannot provide the level of investment needed to drive the agricultural sector, the private sector?s contribution to Africa?s agricultural transformation was imperative.

?The best results are produced when public and private actors commit to work together in flexible, dynamic partnerships which develop creative ways for effectively collaborating in agri-food system activities?.

The FAO Regional Director for Africa, however, stated that the key challenge in public-private partnerships related to the transformation of the public sector and how policies and regulatory frameworks can be accelerated with catalytic public investment made in order to create the enabling environment for private investment.

?Within this framework, Africa has to transform its predominantly smallholder based agriculture in order to become a more efficient and competitive player on the global stage?, she said.

Madam Semedo said ?political commitment? from African governments were essential towards the realisation of the agricultural transformation process and added even though African governments had adopted the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), African governments still needed to meet their obligations vis- a- vis their commitment in the Maputo Declaration?.

In an address read on his behalf, Mr. Kwasi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture, identified low productivity, poor infrastructure, high post harvest losses, lack of market access among others as challenges confronting the sector.

To effectively address these challenges, the minister, noted there was the need to encourage effective partnership between the public and the private sectors by creating a platform for engagement and providing the enabling environment for the private sector investment.

Mr. Ahwoi said ?due to limited resources, coupled with competing demands for meagre resources, it has become apparent that government cannot wholly provide infrastructure and service, it is expedient that the private sector, which is generally acknowledged as the engine of growth becomes a key partner in attaining the development agenda?.

According to him, governments in the sub region are ready to create an enabling environment for effective operation by the private sector through strategies such as providing the framework for the partnership, assisting in removing bearers to trade, investment in critical infrastructure and human resource and promoting linkages between the agricultural sector and industry.

To demonstrate the Ghana government?s commitment to the public/private sector partnership and promote agribusiness, he said Ghana has developed a framework for the development of Public Private Partnership (PPP) policy.

Mr Ahwoi said the government or GOG with support from USAID and World Bank has also developed the Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project(GCAP), which commences in October 2012, has a principal objective of improving the investment climate for agribusiness and develop inclusive private-public partnerships and smallholder linkages aimed at increasing on-farm productivity and value addition in selected value chains.

He said the GCAP is expected to enhance increased access to land, private sector finance, input output markets in smallholder, provision of infrastructure.

According to Mr Ahwoi, an agribusiness division has also been established to provide a one ?stop- shop where information and support services are given to investors in the sector adding, ? an Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF) has been established? to provide medium to long term financing to the sector.

Source: GNA



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