Continental agri-business intelligence platform for women launched

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“VALUE4HERConnect, Africa’s first agri-business intelligence platform aimed at facilitating growth and development of women owned agri-enterprises was launched in Accra by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) this week.

The platform seeks to expand women’s presence in markets where trade, access to new markets, nationally, regionally and internationally, and to acquire the capital, business and technical partners and resources required to support their growing businesses.

Additionally, the platform acts as a valuable database for diverse group sustainable agriculture-oriented partners seeking women business partners to fund, trade with, procure and source from. The platform has registered over 750 women agri-businesses in Africa and has scope to grow this community to a much higher level.

Sabdiyo Dido Bashuna, Head of Gender and Inclusiveness, AGRA, stated that as part of AGRA’s objective to transform agriculture on the continent, the challenge also remains how to ensure that the 50% of women that are active economic actors in agriculture production can benefit from agriculture value chains.

“It forms part of AGRA’s inclusivity agenda”, she added. Another key issue Sabdiyo touched on is the fact that women across the continent are doing small businesses and a huge chunk of them are in agriculture. The challenge for her department therefore is to help grow those businesses into ventures that make economic sense.

Hence, ‘Value4HerConnect’ provides customised market information and intelligence services related to national, regional and international business expansion, and serves as a first point of call for women to do business and trade in African and global agricultural markets.

AGRA Regional Head for West Africa, Foster Boateng for his part observed that AGRA’s vision it to improve African agriculture to transform African economies. He noted that most actors in agriculture are mostly smallholder farmers whose yields are inadequate and it is the objective of AGRA to transform them from subsistence levels to profitable businesses.

He noted that in 2006, Kofi Annan, realizing the success of a green revolution in Asia that transformed economies, called for a uniquely green African revolution, hence the establishment of AGRA. He noted that only 4% of agricultural financing goes to people along the value chain, et they are feeding the nation. Hence, AGRA feels this situation has to stop if agriculture is to remain meaningful.

Therefore, he said AGRA supports African governments to drive their own agricultural agenda.

A panel discussion constituting women experts in agri-business, agricultural production, post-harvest management, financing, commodity buyers and policy advocates spoke to the theme: “Facilitating dialogue to enhance women participation in agribusiness” addressed key barriers for women’s empowerment in agriculture.

It was facilitated by Angela Dannson, a former Director of MoFA PPMED and Regina Richardson, AGRA, Ghana and a participant, Lydia Sasu who works closely with women in the agriculture value chain noted that majority of farmer-based organisations (FBOs) are women yet they are often prohibited from owing land.

This is a drawback to improving productivity and another drawback is their low educational level which inhibits them from knowing policies in place in their favour. Pan African Savings and Loans stated it has designed specific products for women such as the lease of farmlands, equity loan participation and that 31% of digital agri-loans goes to women’s participation in agriculture value chains.

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