The Board of Directors of the Agriculture Fast Track Fund (AFT) of the African Development Bank (AfDB) have approved $23 million grants to support agribusiness small-and-medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria and seven other African countries.
In a statement, the lender said that apart from Nigeria, the beneficiary SMEs were drawn from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal and Tanzania to increase food production, gender empowerment and create jobs in Africa.
The multi-donor Trust Fund is being supported by governments of United States of America, Denmark and Sweden through their development agencies-United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and Swedish International Development (Sida).
Each of the beneficiaries would receive between $100,000 and $1.5 million towards the preparation of agriculture infrastructure projects and financing or advisory services for agribusiness expansion purposes.
The projects are supposed to be implemented within six months and also finance upstream work of project design, including feasibility studies, business plans, product and process certification, market analysis, as well as aid them to conduct environmental and social impact assessment.
The AFT since its inception in 2013 has been administered by the Agriculture and Agro-Industry Department of the AFDB and approved 36 grant projects, mostly private-sector sponsored agribusiness SMEs.
Commenting on the grants, the Coordinator of the Agriculture Fast Track Fund, Dr Jonas Chianu, said a total of 1,022 entries were received by the AFT Technical Review Committee, adding that after rigorous technical evaluation 17 projects were selected for support.
He said the funds would support SMEs in poultry farming, cultivation of seeds, irrigation farming and other interventions and expressed the conviction that the projects would positively impact on job creation, gender empowerment and improve agriculture infrastructure.
One of the grantees, Mr Gebriel Galatis, the Country Director for the Canadian Feed the Children, an Ethiopian NGO, said the support from the Bank would enable the Organisation to undertake irrigation farming to promote food security, especially in the southern part of Ethiopia, which was ravaged by protracted war.
It would also empower women and young girls to undertake agribusiness and process tomatoes locally for sustenance of the local economy.
Another grantee, Mr JohnCarl Dunyo Kwame, Product Innovation and Distribution Manager of the Farmline, a Ghanaian agriculture company, said the funding would empower them to construct more warehouses to preserve cocoa beans in the Upper West, Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions.
Source: New Telegraph