Caribbean Region represented at African Conference on ‘Fin4ag 2014-revolutionising finance for agriculture value chains’

Over 700 participants from 81 countries descended on the Kenyan capital, Nairobi for a Conference from July 14-18, 2014, to discuss and gain exposure to strategies for addressing one of the main challenges faced by agriculture value chains – financing. This event, held at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies, was co-hosted by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation ACP-EU (CTA) under the theme ‘Revolutionizing finance for agri-value chains‘. This event formed part of an International Conference Series: Rethinking smallholder agriculture.

Why the focus on access to finance? Because it is seen as a driver of agricultural growth and transformation in the ACP countries. In recent years, there have been significant value chain finance innovations in certain countries, especially in Africa, however replication and adoption has been slow in other countries, hence the need for a Conference of this nature to allow stakeholders to discuss and be exposed to these innovations.

At the Opening Ceremony, the Vice President of Kenya opined that food security can only come about by making greater use of modern technology, including bio technology and developing a correct model for financing in order to bring down the cost of borrowing, among other things.

The Caribbean Farmers Network (CAFAN) and the Caribbean Agri-business Association (CABA) delivered presentations on their work programmes at the session titled ‘The Caribbean farmers challenge: factoring for farmers’. The youths also made their presence felt at the Conference, with one showcasing his digital platform – ‘Agrocentral’, which links small farmers and businesses; while another profiled the social blog site devoted to agricultural issues.

Informative Sessions were held in the areas of Revolutionising finance for agriculture: the tools; Policy development for agri-value chain finance; and Cross-cutting issues in agri-value chain finance (climate change, women and youth). The first day of the Conference included a presentation titled ‘Plug and Play’ which showcased a range of ICTs and mobile platforms developed and being implemented to support access to agriculture finance along the value chain. Some of the areas covered by ICT platforms include provision of better information to banks, mobile and other financial institutions to aid granting of credit, digital applications facilitating effective linkages among farmers, businesses and banks for easy access to finance.

Some of the other topics covered at the sessions were Best practices in agricultural value chain finance; Risk management tools for agricultural finance; Building a successful agri-value chain; investment funds; Crowd funding for ACP agriculture: initiatives, challenges and perspectives; and Positioning farmers organisations in agri-value chain finance debate.

Some of the other topics covered at the sessions were Best practices in agricultural value chain finance; Risk management tools for agricultural finance; Building a successful agri-value chain; investment funds; Crowd funding for ACP agriculture: initiatives, challenges and perspectives; and Positioning farmers organisations in agri-value chain finance debate.

At the Conference, the Caribbean team met and agreed to:

  • Create a platform to bring financial institutions together and sensitise them about the agriculture sectors and its financial needs
  • Give consideration to ICT platforms for farm applications

The Caribbean was represented by fifteen (15) participants from the private sector (buyers, producers, and micro finance companies) and facilitating agencies, CARDI, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Caribbean Farmers Network (CAFAN) and the Caribbean Agri-business Association (CABA).

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