Round table discussions

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Theme A: Youth employment

In many African economies over 50% of young people in the age of 15 – 24 are unemployed. Many of them move to the cities to find a job. Unfortunately, this is not easy due to for example the low level of education or simply because the background and experience of these young people does not match the skills required. The alternative for these young people would be to stay in rural areas and become farmers. But are there any opportunities?

Topics for discussion

  1. How can farming offer young people an attractive alternative for moving to the city?
  2. How can employment be created in the other parts of the value chain e.g. in marketing, distribution and sales?
  3. What role do SME’s play in creating employment for young people?

Companies / experts joining:

  • Psaltry International (Nigerian food processor)
  • Chris de Nie (?)
  • Richard Hawkins (ICRA)
  • Marije Balt (SpringFactor)


Theme B: Women’s leadership in the African agri and food sector

Farming means food. Women are less likely to own land than men, and the land women do have access to is often of poor quality and plots are small. In addition, greater poverty, lower levels of education, and lack of credit among women prohibit them from using fertilizers and improved seeds or mechanical tools and equipment. As a consequence, there are still very few women working as successful farmers or in leadership positions in the African agri and food sector. One of the objectives of the 2SCALE program is to involve at least 40% women in the program, either as farmers or as entrepreneurs. Currently, over 30% of involved smallholders is female and in the involved SMEs over 35% is female.

Topics for discussion

  1. What do women farmers need to become entrepreneurs?
  2. How can women take the lead in agribusiness enterprises?
  3. What role could women’s organizations play?

Companies / experts joining:

  • Shalem Investments (Kenyan trade company)
  • Louise Anten (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Raphael Vogelsperger (IFDC)
  • Lucy Muchoki (PANAAC)


Theme C: What are the advantages of inclusive business?

Inclusive business is about including the poor in the business process be it as producers or consumers. Inclusive businesses aim for the creation of sustainable livelihoods by:

  • Employing low-income people;
  • Targeting development of suppliers and service providers from low-income communities; or
  • Providing affordable goods and services targeted at low-income communities.

The 2SCALE program aims to include people from low-income groups as employees in agri and food businesses. So far, the program included 330,000 smallholders as well as 1250 SMEs in improved supply chains. Moreover, there are 24 pilot projects aiming to develop, market and sell agri and food products targeted at low income consumers.

Topics for discussion:

  1. What makes a business inclusive and how to overcome the challenges in becoming an inclusive business
  2. Why do entrepreneurs aim towards inclusive businesses?
  3. Is inclusive business a precondition for long term success?

Companies / experts joining:

  • Guts Agro (Ethiopian food producer)
  • Monique Calon (Ministry of Foreingn Affairs)
  • Emile Schmitz (BoPInc)
  • Sybren Attema (Friesland Campina)


Theme D: Farming as a business?

To achieve sustainable growth, poverty reduction and food security there need to be appropriate incentives for smallholder farmers to use modern methods of production. In addition, proper market mechanisms should be organized. In many African countries access to land is becoming more difficult. Land titles are being divided amongst family members and plots are oftentimes even too small to provide food for the closest relatives. For many farmers it is hard to imagine that commercial farming could actually work.

The 2SCALE program organizes smallholder farmers in cooperatives around defined crops. The farmers are being trained in better farming practices such as the use of fertilizers, soil management and irrigation which results in higher yields and better quality produce. The produce is being sold to SMEs and MNEs that source their inputs locally and in some cases even the by-products are being used. Through the development of smallholders on the one hand and supply chains on the other, markets are being created providing secure sales and distribution channels and thus a relatively secure income.

Topics for discussion:

  1. Why should farmers become business men and women?
  2. What do farmers need to become entrepreneurs?
  3. How do they enter the market?

Companies / experts joining:

  • Acila / Promo Fruits (?)
  • Aaltje de Roos (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Toon Defoer (ICRA)
  • Jan Arie Nugteren (East-West Seeds)


Theme E: Access to finance

Once a smallholder cooperative starts to function well and prepares to start new or higher quality crop production, there is usually a need for capital to invest in for example seeds, fertilizers, machines, storage, and distribution facilities. In addition, SMEs need capital for the development of new products, as well as sales and distribution channels. Getting access to capital is oftentimes cumbersome, particularly for enterprises in the African agri and food sector, where risks are relatively high.

In the 2SCALE program farmers are being trained to improve their skills and within their agribusiness clusters they are connected to private businesses providing them with supply. The SMEs can receive support in business modelling and planning to prepare them for the fund raising stage.

Topics for discussion:

  1. What are the criteria for bankable proposals?
  2. How should we assess business plans?
  3. Which risk mitigation instruments can farmers and SMEs use?

Companies / experts joining:

  • AACE Foods (Nigerian food producer)
  • Selwyn Moons (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Niek van Dijk (BoPInc)
  • Albert Boogaard (Rabobank Foundation)


Theme F: Shifting power relations in value chain partnerships

Upgrading value chains is one of the routes along which the African agri and food sector can improve itself. In the 2SCALE program public organizations and private businesses have partnered and improved the value chains around certain crops, thus creating a more secure supply of inputs and a more consistent and reliable income for smallholder farmers, allowing for increased access to credit and opportunities for expansion. Still, farmers require consistent, reliable payment for crops with minimal market price fluctuation to become strong players and they need some negotiating power. Shifting more value to farmers by involving them in more elements of the supply chain, such as processing and storage, could be helpful. Also, transparency and high quality information on pricing and added value could help all partners involved.

Topics for discussion:

  1. How to ensure that all parties involved have equal benefits?
  2. How can risks be shared?
  3. How to build sustainable inclusive partnerships between public and private partners?

Companies / experts joining:

  • Fruittiland (?)
  • Anno Galema (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Jan Willem van Casteren (IFDC)
  • Sietze Vellema (PrC)


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