KEPSA was part of stakeholders involved in the 2019 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR) write shop meeting that took place on 25th – 26th March 2019 at Sankara Hotel in Nairobi.
The objective of the meeting was to help shape the content of the 2019 AASR report and explore in depth this year’s theme: “The Role of Private Sector in Agricultural Transformation”, which focuses on a comprehensive assessment of private sector and their role in agricultural transformation.
During the meeting, the lead authors presented outlines/draft reports of chapters for discussion and received feedback from stakeholders in order to produce a publication that will be a reference point on the role of private sector in agricultural transformation. The 2019 theme follows on last year’s theme, which focused on the role of government in agricultural transformation and recognized the key role of government in creating the necessary enabling environment for private sector to invest and drive transformation.
Delegates acknowledged that in general, there was low participation of private sector in agriculture due to a myriad of challenges. Therefore, the 2019 report would explore current constraints that hinder private sector participation in agriculture in Africa. In addition, the publication will explore strategies for enhancing private sector engagement as well as appropriate models, and incentives for increasing their participation, among others. The report will consist of evidence-based contributions and practical solutions to the issues being considered.
The meeting observed that there exist multiple layers of land ownership in Africa. Some owned by the government, customary authorities and the private sector with the key issues being land fragmentation, cost competitiveness and weak land rights, which constrain the ability of the private sector to invest. To mitigate the risks the private sector has in invested in contract farming and out grower schemes. On labour markets, it was noted that there was huge technical skills gap across the continent and that off farm activities offered the best opportunities for job creation especially for the youth. In order to bridge sector skills gap the private sector has invested in on job training and mentorship while business schools are slowly aligning themselves to teach agribusiness. On inputs, it was observed that there was a shift from standard to balanced input application. In this regard input suppliers are often forced to work together to deliver competitive packages to farmers including seeds, fertilizer and pesticides.
In her closing remarks, the Presidents of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Dr. Agnes Kalibata, emphasized the need to break silos when handling agriculture issues. She observed that the forum presented an opportunity for the private sector to contribute extensively to the 2019 AASR report thereby driving knowledge and evidence for policy interventions. She dared the private sector to be bold to challenge the status quo and demand for justification for government investments including subsidies noting that the private sector was sourcing fertilizer much cheaper than governments across Africa. Dr. Kalibata called on African governments in partnership with the private sector to shun Non-Tariff Barriers (NTB’s) observing that they had led some companies to open shop in all East African States in order to trade a situation which she noted was untenable.
AGRA has been publishing AASR since 2013. The annual publication has become a reference point for emerging topics on agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), such as Staple Crops (2013), Climate Change (2014), Youth in Agriculture (2015), Progress towards an Agriculture Transformation (2016), and Business of Agriculture (2017), and Catalysing Government Capacity to Drive Agricultural Transformation.