The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), an African-based fund for agriculture and finance, has launched the Seeds for Impact Programme in Ghana to support sustainable agriculture in 12 West African countries, in Accra.
The programme will provide financing and other technical support to seed companies from the beneficiary countries, namely Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique.
The broader idea is to help the companies to diversify seeds that are being produced and delivered to the market to enhance the quality of seed and also empower private sector seed companies to become sustainable.
Out of the $60 million investment, there is an initial funding of $10 million from the project partners partners, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA).
“This is a big step towards food security. Food security depends a lot on the ability of the farmer to produce good quality food.
The input you have, of course matters a lot and seed is one of the big determinant as to whether you get good yield or not,” Chief Executive Officer of AECF, Daniel Ohonde, told the B&FT in an interview.
He added: “For us it is a big contribution towards ensuring that first, we are making good use of the land we have; secondly, we can feed our people; and thirdly, you are growing the private sector and supporting that seed sector.”
Awardees of the Seeds for Impact Program will be granted technical and financial assistance and concessional loans and grants ranging between $250,000 and $1.5 million.
Criteria for eligibility include being a small and medium (SME) seed companies located in one of the focus countries and have a turnover of less than US $10million, demonstrate the ability to match AECF funding, must be compliant with fundamental in-country and international human rights, labour standards, environmental management laws, seed laws/policy and must also a legally registered and physically established in the country of doing business.
“In addition to seed investment, the Seeds for Impact Program will provide eligible businesses with access to research and development information available at indigenous public research stations, technology scouting services, business planning, trials, registration, technical support for seed production and monitoring and evaluation, financial advisory, and match-making for follow-on financing.
The initiative will support farmers as well as distributors to satisfy seed market needs in West Africa through the introduction of improved varieties and technical assistance needed to scale,” Mr. Ohonde added.
Source: BestNewsGH.com/PATRICK PAINTSIL