To tackle the low levels of crop yields for smallholder farmers, a six-year US$ 60 million funding window opportunity has opened for Ghanaian private sector seed companies.
The fund, which was launch on Tuesday, in Accra has an initial funding grant of US$10 million, from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), and will be implemented by the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF).
This program seeks to address the funding gap faced by scaling seed companies in their quest to produce improved seed for staple crops, including publicly-bred varieties that meet the diverse and regional needs of farmers.
In an interview with Goldstreet Business, the Director, Investment and Portfolio Management at ACEF, Steve Tawia indicated that a total of top seven companies who will present concept proposals will receive funding.
Awardees of the Seeds for Impact Program will be granted technical and financial assistance and concessional loans and grants ranging between US$250,000 and US$1.5 million, rated at a zero interest.
“The program is really to make these seed companies scale, so that it reduces the cost to the small holder farmers, and also to make sure we bundle their services, including improved seeds, fertilizers and extensions services, which be enabled by the financing credit.”
With Improved seed, the continent is estimated to vastly transform and improve its agriculture productivity needed to feed the inhabitants. Currently, Africa imports up to US$35 billion worth of food annually, an amount that is predicted to increase to US$110 billion by 2025.
Under this initiative, the incomes of about 600,000 smallholder farmers will substantially increase in sub-Saharan Africa by transferring to them in-demand, high-yielding and climate-smart seed and planting material technologies.
A total of three million people are expected to be reached under the program in 12 countries namely, Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique.
In relation to this, AGRA has also launched a 10,000 seed program, which is essentially to scale-up the production capacity of seed companies that are currently producing 2,000 to 3000 metric tonnes per hectare.
Globally the provision and adoption of improved seed and planting material for many crops has raised productivity, improved the lives of millions of farmers and increased the availability of low-cost nutritious food in both rural and urban markets. Africa, however, has so far not sufficiently benefitted from this productivity increase.
The window for the seed program opens from November 30 to December 11, 2018.
Criteria for eligibility include:
- 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
- Legally registered and physically established in the country of doing business
By Joshua W. Amlanu