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IFC targets one million African farmers for agribusiness growth

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farmer_1The World Bank’s private agency has targeted one million smallholder farmers across Africa by the end of 2018.

According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), it plans to achieve this by promoting agriculture and agribusiness practices on the continent.

The Corporation also hopes to partner the private sector, civil society organizations as well as farmer capacity building agencies to reach the targeted farmers in order to boost food production in Africa.

“With demand for food expected to grow by 70% worldwide by 2050, agribusiness is central to IFC’s strategy for private sector development,” the IFC said June 5, 2013 in a statement as it hosted a conference in Nairobi, Kenya last week.

The event brought together the private sector, donors, civil society and financial institutions to discuss how to connect farmers to large markets, address climate change and food security in Africa.

Official figures show agriculture accounts for nearly half of the continent’s GDP, and employs 60% of the labour force.

The World Bank, in a recent report, estimated that by 2030, if production is optimized, agriculture could develop into a $1 trillion industry in sub-Saharan Africa amidst numerous challenges faced by farmers that keep them from realizing the productive potential of their land.

Sara Clancy, Manager of the IFC’s Sustainable Business Advisory in sub-Saharan Africa, said, “Weather, pests, crop disease, and market failures make farming an inherently risky enterprise in sub- Saharan Africa.”

To address these issues, Ms Clancy said the IFC is working with companies, governments, financial institutions, and farmers to promote practices that benefit local communities, protect the environment, and make agriculture more profitable for the farmers involved.

By Ekow Quandzie

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