US, Sweden create $25m fund to spur private agric investment in Ghana, others

women-farmingThe governments of Sweden and the United States of America have announced the creation of a $25 million African agriculture fund for the six-member New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition initiative which includes Ghana.

The others in the Alliance are Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

To be managed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the $25 million fund known as the Agriculture Fast Track, will spur greater private investment in agriculture infrastructure projects in sub-Saharan Africa.

The fund was jointly announced May 9, 2013 by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the AfDB and the Swedish government during the Grow Africa’s Investment Forum in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Agriculture Fast Track was developed with the support of USAID, which has committed $15 million and the Government of Sweden, which pledged $10 million.

The fund is expected to strengthen the links from farmers to markets to tables.

In a joint statement, the three said “Supporting up to $1.5 million per project, the Agriculture Fast Track will finance upstream work of project design, including feasibility studies, market analyses, site surveys, business plans, financial modeling and other activities necessary to ensure project quality and bankability.”

They believe that these project preparation grants will ultimately facilitate access to more funding for agriculture infrastructure because banks and other investors require this documentation to issue commercial loans.

AfDB’s President Dr Donald Kaberuka indicated that the fund is a critical tool to better leverage donor funding to catalyze private sector investment in support of infrastructure construction and Africa’s long-term economic growth and food security.

USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah said the launch of the Agriculture Fast Track will allow African farmers to take advantage of reforms through fast-tracked infrastructure projects that will better deliver their products to markets.

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition was launched by US President Barack Obama at the 2012 G-8 Summit. The New Alliance matches market-oriented regulatory reforms in these six countries with $3.7 billion in commitments from the private sector in agriculture.

By Ekow Quandzie

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