Dear Ms Maria Luisa Silva, Director, of the UNDP Office in Geneva
Dear Mr Daniel Ryan, Managing Director, Swiss Re
Agriculture is central to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular, SDG2 – to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. In the next 30 years, Food production will have to increase by 60 % to meet the demand resulting from foreseen population growth, urbanization and the changing food preferences. This demand for food opens up tremendous opportunities for smallholder farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs across the entire value chains, provided they are adequately supported.
One of the major constraints entrepreneurs from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries face is the lack of affordable finance. The International Finance Corporation found out that up to 84% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa are either un-served or underserved, representing a financing gap of USD 140-170 billion. This situation is critical in the agricultural sector where less than a quarter of the financing need of smallholder farmers in developing countries is currently met. Access to investment for young entrepreneurs is similarly critical.
My organisation, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU), has been engaged for several years in various programmes with the ambition to address some of these challenges.
For example, through our AgriHack Talent initiative which aims at supporting youth innovations and entrepreneurship in Agriculture, CTA raised awareness and built the capacity of about 700 young innovators on digital entrepreneurship in agriculture in different regions, including West Africa, the Caribbean and East Africa. We have collaborated with about 25 innovation centres, many of which have helped incubate and mentor entrepreneurs. Some of the start-ups, such as FarmDrive and Ensibuuko, whose prototypes were created at hackathons we organized, have raised in total more than 800 000 USD from private investors. This does not include grants they benefited from CTA. Services offered by winners of the AgriHack initiative are reaching more than 600 000 farmers. They have contributed to improving farmer's productivity, and to increase their revenues.
However, the large majority of the entrepreneurs in developing countries still struggle to access the capital that they need to grow. We hope that, with programmes such as the Geneva Social Good Summit, and with the support of all players from private and public sectors, they will increasingly gain the much-needed investments. This will help them contribute to achieving the SDGs, apart from improving livelihoods for themselves.