IFC to reach 1 million farmers in Africa by 2018 through sustainable agribusiness
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, aims to reach one million smallholder farmers in Africa by promoting sustainable agriculture and agribusiness practices, a goal it today while hosting a conference in Nairobi which 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.
Agriculture accounts for nearly half of the continent’s GDP, and employs 60 percent of the labor force. The World Bank estimates that by 2030, if production is optimized, agriculture could develop into a $1 trillion industry in Sub-Saharan Africa.
However, farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa face numerous challenges that keep them from realizing the productive potential of their land.
Sara Clancy, Manager of 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, IFC works with companies, governments, financial institutions, and farmers themselves to promote practices that benefit local communities, protect the environment, and make agriculture more profitable for the farmers involved.”
IFC’s conference in Nairobi featured discussions led by private sector leaders such as ECOM, Vegpro and BidCo; civil society organizations such as Oxfam, as well as farmer capacity building agencies. The participants explored strategies to engage local farmers in larger supply chains, as well as discuss investment opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa. IFC and its partners are also working with farmers to develop agricultural models that are resilient to climate change and make the most of scarce resources, such as water.
The conference also saw the launch of an IFC handbook on sustainable agriculture in Africa, which was distributed to companies, donors and farmer organizations. The Financial Times, IFC’s media partner for the conference, released in June 2013 a special edition of their ‘This is Africa’ supplement focusing on African Agribusiness.
With demand for food expected to grow by 70% worldwide by 2050, agribusiness is central to IFC’s strategy for private sector development. IFC has already invested over $ 4 billion in agriculture projects worldwide.