African governments should work with stakeholders along the agriculture value chain to harmonise intra-African food trade policies in order to increase trade across borders, a non-profit organization said on Thursday. The Executive Director of African Women Agribusiness Network (AWAN-Afrika), Ms Beatrice Gakuba said that this will go a long way in opening up opportunities for women traders who make the bulk of grain traders in Africa.
Ms. Gakuba said Africa has a unique opportunity to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), to exploit the full potential of African women in agriculture and agribusiness.
Data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) indicates that despite accounting for 40 percent of the farm labour force on the continent and producing at least 70 percent of food consumed in Africa their role in agribusiness is still limited.
Speaking ahead of the three-day African Grain Trade Summit (AGTS 2019) kicking off in Mombasa city on Thursday, Ms Gakuba said there is need to build the capacity of women traders so that they can access the bigger market created with the implementation of AfCFTA.
“At AWAN-Afrika, we noticed that even though women were in every stage of the agricultural value chain, those in agribusiness lack access to market information or where to get the right buyers for their produce,” said Ms. Gakuba.
According to the World Bank, just 5 percent of Africa’s imports of cereals come from other African countries.
She pointed out that African governments now have a chance now to formulate and harmonise food trade policies so that the private sector can take advantage of the investment opportunities available in this sector.
“Africa imports most of its grains from outside of the continent, largely due to ineffective grain supply chains aided by several tariff and non-tariff barriers,” added Ms. Gakuba.
The theme of this year’s AGTS is, “Transforming Grain Trade Value Chains for a Prosperous Africa”.
It will seek to find solutions to the missing pieces of the grain trade puzzle and attempt to devise an action plan to transform grain trade value chains.