This is the largest conference ever held on agri-value chain finance, attracting in total primarily some 890 people from 81 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP), but also Europe, America and Asia. Beyond the regular news and film reporting, social reporting featured very strongly with up to 10,000 tweets from delegates alone.
"This has been a unique week. We came to this conference looking for solutions, because we don't want to dwell on the problems. We want to move forward and look at the opportunities together. And CTA is committed to continuing this dialogue", declared Michael Hailu, director of CTA at the closing ceremony.
The conference was officially opened on Tuesday 15, July by His Excellency William Ruto, Deputy President of Kenya. The main events at Fin4Ag included: Plug and Play Day and African Continental briefing and Field trips.
Lamon Rutten, CTA programme manager for policies, markets and ICTs, set the scene by stating: "Africa has enormous potential and farmers are ready to see themselves as businessmen, rather than just subsistence producers".
Spotlight on agri-value chain finance
The first day of the conference marked a two day African Continental Briefing jointly organised by the Pan African Farmer's Organisations (PAFO), CTA and the African Union Commission. It focused on promoting inclusive finance models for farmers. Participants discussed ideas and shared their experiences on the concept of agricultural value chain (vc) finance and the types of vc business models for greater rural development and sustainability.
Several other speakers examined on the issue of risk. Banks will not be inclined to lend to farmers if they believe that the risks are too high. However, taking risks is part of innovation, suggested Mamadou Biteye of the Rockefeller Foundation Africa Regional Office.
Plug & Play Day
Plug and Play Day which took place just before the main conference attracted over 400 participants. As Benjamin Addom, CTA's ICT4D programme coordinator, briefly described, its purpose was to showcase a range of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and mobile platforms which have been developed to support access to agricultural finance.
"Now, farmers can move money around using mobile phones and get instant news. We are living in an era where farmers can potentially access credit at the touch of a mobile phone", says Prof Kinandu Murangu, executive director of the KSMS.
In total, 18 digital platforms were showcased during Plug and Play Day through eight parallel sessions. Details about all the digital platforms featured during Plug and Play Day can be found here.
The main Fin4Ag conference was organized into three streams: revolutionising finance for agriculture; policy development for agri-value chain finance; and cross-cutting issues in agri-value chain finance. Over 50 sessions were organized featuring renowned experts, industry leaders and farmers organizations.
On the last day, Safari National Park welcomed participants taking part in a number of exciting field trips that demonstrated how agricultural finance is already transforming businesses on the ground. The 10 field trips included Zinger Enterprises Ltd, Kiambaa Rural Dairy Sacco, Kiawara Market, Ntirimiti Centre, Kenya Women Microfinance Bank Head office...
The Fin4Ag conference brought also together on-site some 25 young people from ACP countries in the Social Reporting Team and contributed to engaging them with over 400 online team in the discussions on agriculture and rural development.
During the cocktail dinner organised at the end of the conference, the nine winners of the Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition (YoBloCo Awards) were announced.
Find more about the awards.
A time for reflection and action
One of the key messages to come out of the conference was that financiers need to gain a better understanding of agriculture; and farmers need to gain a better understanding of the financial world. "We need to build bridges between the two sectors, and I believe that this conference has shown how we can do that," said Michael Hailu, director of CTA.
Felix Koskei, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, stated in his keynote speech: "There is an immense gap in financing agriculture in Africa, and a lot of ideas have come from this conference in terms of bridging that gap."
Millison Nahr, Chair of the African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA): "Governments need to create an enabling environment to encourage financial institutions to work more closely with the agricultural sector. There is an urgent need to help farmers organisations build their capacity and become more business-savvy".
Both Michael Hailu and Lamon Rutten of CTA stressed the importance of feedback. That is why after the conference, delegates received questionnaires which encouraged them to share their views, new connections made, new lessons learnt, new experiences gained and new plans for the future of agricultural sector.
For more information on the conference visit the Fin4Ag website.