AWAN-Afrika and #Value4Her call for urgent action to remove trade barriers in the food staple value chain.

1 October 2019:

African governments should work with stakeholders along the agriculture value chain to harmonize intra-African food trade policies in order to increase trade across borders. This will go a long way in opening up opportunities for women traders who make the bulk of grain traders in Africa, according to Beatrice Gakuba, the Executive Director (ED) of AWAN-Afrika.

Ms Gakuba says Africa has a unique opportunity to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), to exploit the full potential of African women in agriculture and agribusiness.
Data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicates that despite accounting for 40% of the farm labour force on the continent and producing at least 70% of food consumed in Africa their role in agribusiness is still limited.

Speaking ahead of the 8th African Grain Trade Summit (AGTS 2019) to be held in Mombasa from 3rd to 5th October 2019, the ED of AWAN-Afrika said there is need to build the capacity of women traders so that they can access the bigger market created with the implementation of AfCFTA. She will be a panelist at the AGTS 2019. Ms. Sabdiyo Dido, Senior Technical Advisor of Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), will be among delegates attending the three day summit.

“At AWAN-Afrika, we noticed that even though women were in every stage of the agricultural value chain, those in agribusiness lack access to market information or where to get the right buyers for their produce,” said AWAN-Afrika’s ED.

Among AWAN-Afrika’s solutions to this is an E-Hub and the #Value4Her Connect platform, which are repositories of information on agriculture along value and supply chains for women and youth-owned agribusinesses.

“We will continue to push for an open discussion on food trade policies, as this will promote trust between government and the private sector, we will also advocate for reforms across Africa in the whole agriculture value chain to support increased intra-African trade,” says Ms. Dido.

In partnership with CTA’s #Value4Her project, AWAN-Afrika shares the first intelligent digital platform on the continent, #Value4Her Connect, which links women’s agribusinesses with exporters, investors, agri-tech companies and other value chain actors to facilitate inclusive participation in the continental and global market. #Value4Her brings together women in agribusiness to network and get exposure to international markets.

“Agribusiness is not just about profits – it is also about food security for a continent that still spends about USD 35 Billion annually on food imports and is expected to reach USD 110 Billion in 2025,” said Ms Dido.

According to the World Bank, just 5% of Africa’s imports of cereals come from other African countries. African governments have a chance now to formulate and harmonize food trade policies so that the private sector can take advantage of the investment opportunities available in this sector.

“Africa imports most of its grains from outside of the continent, largely due to ineffective grain supply chains aided by several tariff and non-tariff barriers,” added AWAN-Afrika’s ED.

The theme of this year’s #AGTS is, “Transforming Grain Trade Value Chains for a Prosperous Africa”It will seek to find solutions to the missing pieces of the grain trade puzzle and attempt to devise an action plan to transform grain trade value chains and to deliver more trade and better trade and ultimately deliver prosperity for Africa,” according to the East African Grain Council, the organizers of the summit.

About AWAN-Afrika

The African Women Agribusiness Network (AWAN) – Afrika is a non-profit organization limited by guarantee. It provides a platform for African women and youth in Agribusiness to access markets, trade information and finance so as to leverage opportunities to increase trade in the regional markets, tap into the newly created Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the global market. The network comprises of individual members’ businesses including producers, processors, aggregators, export companies and input suppliers among others across 35 countries in Africa. 14% of AWAN-Afrika members from 12 different countries own agribusinesses trading in grains and cereals. 67% of them are medium businesses with an annual turnover of $15,000 – $50,000.

About #VALUE4HER Project

The #Value4Her project was launched in July 2018, in Nairobi, with AWAN-Afrika’s partners; CTA and African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF). #VALUE4HER is CTA’s continental programme aimed at increasing value for women from agricultural businesses through market access and business linkages; improved knowledge, skills and capacities; and digitally-enabled socio and business networking. The programme seeks to strengthen women’s agribusiness enterprises and promotes global advocacy to address some of the pressing barriers to women’s empowerment in agriculture.