African Trade Policy Center (ATPC) Program Management Officer Batanai Chikwene has urged African leaders to honor their commitment to allocate 10 % of their budgets to agriculture to improve food security, reduce poverty and spur economic growth.
Chikwene said Africa needs more resources to support agriculture sector more so the small holder farmers who have been neglected by various African Governments.
“The AfCFTA will be or immense help to small scale farmers and start-ups on the continent. In addition to providing them with 97 percent market access and a framework for trade facilitation, it will eliminate barriers inhibiting their growth. But then access to finance is important, which is why I believe that the time is ripe for us to increase our capacity for farmers to increase productivity,” he said.
Speaking during the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) in Cairo Egypt, Chikwene noted that with the AfCFTA, Africa’s farmers need not only to feed people in their own countries but also to penetrate international markets.
He however noted that financing Agriculture sector should not only be left to Government.
He noted that the private sector also has a crucial role to play in helping to finance the sector, especially financing small scale farming because of their key role to the continent’s economic success.
African leaders agreed in Maputo, Mozambique, in 2003 to refocus national attention to building stronger, more dynamic agriculture sectors.
In the Maputo Declaration, they agreed to re-invest 10 percent of their national budgets to improve food security, reduce poverty, and spur rural development. But less much has been achieved according to Chikwene.
ATPC was established in June 2003. The Centre is based within the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Headquarters in Addis Ababa.
The main objective of the Centre since its establishment has been to strengthen the human and institutional capacities of African Governments to formulate and implement sound trade policies and participate more effectively in trade negotiations at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.
The head of Private Sector and Trade Finance at the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), Khalid Ahmed, Urged the African Government to invest more resources towards the development of small and Medium Enterprises saying they have the capacity to develop Africa.
“Smallholder farmers and SMEs are critical to the overall development of Africa and must be encouraged to grow. They contribute significantly to the economies of African nations and provide the basic needs of the people,” he explained.
He said access to funds is key towards the development of SMES, on the African Continent thus urging financial Institution to come up with financing products that target small holder farmers and the SME on the African continent.
Over 50,000 prominent dealmakers, businesses, industries, investors, countries and suppliers are attending the IATF, where up to $ 25 billion business deals, contracts and investment transactions were made during the trade fair.
The IATF is a platform designed to help African businesses in the huge market that will be created by the AfCFTA.