Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), has called on African governments to create a fund to support women small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in agribusiness to thrive in this period of CoVID-19.
According to AGRA, the creation of a fund by the respective African governments had become necessary to protect the businesses of women SMEs on the continent from collapse.
AGRA in a statement titled, ‘COVID-19 and Women in Agriculture Call to Action’, copied to the Ghanaian Times said, “Women agribusinesses are on the verge of collapse due to crippling cash flow and liquidity challenges, resulting from disruption in their operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“AGRA, in consultation with continental partners and women agriprenuers networks, calls on governments in Africa, the development community, and the private sector, to urgently deploy resources to assist women access resources necessary to conduct agricultural activities, cushions their small businesses to avoid collapse,” the statement added.
AGRA indicated that women constituted nearly 50 per cent of agricultural workforce and own one third of SMEs on the continent, and were a key pillar of Africa’s food systems.
“The inability of women to freely access resources required to conduct primary production activities, find flexible financing to keep their SMEs afloat or earn wage income in rural markets will hinder food security and wellbeing of rural families,” the statement said.
Small women businesses were going through challenges such as loss of sales revenue, cancellations of supply contracts, spread of virus among workers, the statement said, pointing out that, “Women SMEs are particularly vulnerable to these shocks due to their low level of capitalisation resulting from limited access to long term financing.”
The statement stressed that with low saving capabilities, women small holders lacked capital reserves to stockpile agricultural inputs, such as seeds, fertilisers and pesticides.
“It is therefore crucial to assist women access inputs, farm labour, mechanisation and advisory services to help them weather the immediate effects of this crisis.”
Established in 2006, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is an African-led and Africa-based institution that puts smallholder farmers at the centre of the continent’s growing economy by transforming agriculture from a solitary struggle to survive into farming as a business that thrives.
BY KINGSLEY ASARE