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Business News of Thursday, 30 April 2015

Source: GNA

Ghana Agribusiness Investment summit opens

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is holding an investment summit for agribusinesses to facilitate education and unlock investment potentials in agriculture in Ghana.

The Summit, which is the second in the series to be organised by the USAID, focuses on: “Overcoming obstacles to unlocking agricultural investments in Ghana,” with topics such as how to attract private equity investment into agriculture to be discussed.

One of the key constraints of developing commercial agriculture in Ghana is limited access to finance, and the USAID through its Financing Ghanaian Agriculture Project (FinGAP) is facilitating finance and investment in the soy, rice and maize supply and value chains in the north of Ghana.

Mr Rick Dvorin, Chief of Party of the USAID-FinGAP, at the opening of the Summit in Accra on Wednesday, said the project seeks to identify agribusinesses that need investment and link them up with potential investors.

The five-year project, he said also supports the USAID and Ghana’s Feed the Future strategy with the aim to establish commercially-driven agricultural development services critical to sustainably reducing food insecurity, and help in addressing major constraints to the country’s economic growth.

These include the development of financial sector infrastructure and increasing small, medium and large enterprises access to finance.

Mr Dvorin said the project would deploy direct and indirect technical assistance through business advisory service providers to the financial sector to increase investments in agribusinesses within the three value chains.

Mr Gene Cretz, the United States, said the project has so far disbursed 13.5 million dollars in financing through banks and business advisory service providers to agribusinesses, and expect to achieve a total of 75 million dollars in private capital deployed, to targeted value chain by financial institutions by the end of the project in 2018.

He said the intervention by FinGAP has registered major improvements in the targeted areas.

He gave highlights on the key constraints of developing commercial agriculture in Ghana, saying financial institutions are reluctant to provide financing to the agricultural sector due to perceived and actual risks inherent in lending to the sector.

The project would give technical assistance and incentives to unlock significant financing for agribusiness through partnerships with strategic investors and buyers of rice, maize and soy and also contribute to USAID’s overall goal of fostering broad-based, sustained and inclusive economic growth.

Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture said the Ministry has instituted various policies and programmes including the creation of agribusiness support unit to facilitate the development of agribusiness by providing advice on investment opportunities in the sector.

This is targeted mostly at small grower holders to ensure that they expand from peasant farming to commercial production and also to increase private sector collaboration and attract foreign investors.

He said government would continue to provide the needed environment for investor interest and ensure that the private sector takes the frontline with government providing guideline policy.

Topics include; using risk mitigation and collateral enhancements to increase agricultural investments, approaches to agricultural financing private-public partnerships, attracting women to agriculture, and creating an enabling environment for agricultural infrastructure.