Late this year, there was a program in Nairobi Kenya organized by one of the leading investment firms in the continent. The aim of the program was to allow entrepreneurs in agribusiness to pitch before investors the solutions they may have for assisting small scale farmers in the continent.
This presented a great platform for firms in the tech industry to pitch their ideas to investors who were willing to fund them. It saw firms like Mifugo trade, an online livestock marketing platform, battle it out with Atikus insurance, an insurance firm targeted at small-scale farmers, and Farmer line, an information portal for farmers.
In Africa, agriculture reigns. In most African countries like Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, agriculture contributes more than 40% of the GDP. However, you will find that majority of farmers especially in rural areas, lack access to finance and information. Statistics show that less than 1% of total loans disbursed is given to small holder farmers in Africa. The main reason why Agriculture in Africa is underdeveloped is due to lack of collaboration between the government and the private sector. Public policy experts have argued that creating synergistic relationships between governments and the private sector will see more opportunities emerge that would drive growth in the agricultural industry. This will benefit small scale farmers in the continent.
Access to market is a key impediment for growth in the continent. Experts have argued that providing access to markets through opening up corridors, information and financial services will greatly boost food security in the continent.
A good case study of this was in Peru where access to markets was opened and as a result this led to a flowering of opportunities for the local small holder farmers. In Africa, little is being done to spearhead such programs, even though there exist sufficient market research to back its viability. Countries like Mozambique have started implementing programs aimed at boosting food security. Experts agree that implementing such programs is hard work. A country will need the input of all stakeholders across the chain so as to make these initiatives successful. That is why it is important that all stakeholders are actively involved in boosting food security within the continent.
A report by the Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) says that when leveraging on such corridors, government should focus on areas with untapped potential so as to receive value for their investments. There isn’t a panacea for success that can be replicated across all countries. What African governments can focus on is to look at how they can optimize on already existing solutions to fit into at their local economies. Opening such markets will provide better opportunities for farmers to be linked to other farmers, markets, credit, information and investments. The whole aim to expand markets and doing so in a way that would benefit smallholder farmers. Governments across Africa have an important role to play in all these. Their key role is to provide the right policy environment that would facilitate the speedy implementation of market opening initiatives. One expert notes”The central aim of government is to provide an enabling environment. Investments are happening across Africa with or without the intervention of the government. But where governments are actively involved, substantial developments are made towards empowering small holder farmers.”
All these present opportunities for companies in the bitcoin industry to leverage on. Crowd funding startups targeted at farmers can play a major role in providing access to capital to the small holder farmers across the continent. Making transactions using bitcoins will definitely deepen financial penetration across these areas. This will also open new markets for their products. All these present a win-win-win situation for the governments, the small holder farmers and the business enterprises.
Africa has for long suffered the malady of being hindered access to markets .Such initiatives would play a key role in enabling inter regional cooperation and drive economic growth within the continent.
About the writer
Barbra is a bitcoin evangelist from Kenya