The African Development Bank (AfDB) has unveiled a K17.6 billion Agriculture Fast Track (AFT) Fund that seeks to boost Malawi’s agriculture sector, which contributes about 30 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP).
AfDB principal governance expert Fenwick Kamanga, who is also officer in-charge for Malawi office, said 10 African countries are expected to benefit from the fund.
He, however, said each country’s share depends on the nature and successful proposals for funding of project preparation activities.
“There are 10 African countries that are beneficiaries to this fund with no specific allocation for each country. The benefits will depend on the success of the proposals submitted for the projects within the window requirements,” said Kamanga.
The AFT Fund is a project preparation facility expected to exclusively support public-private match-making in the agriculture sector, targeting activities such as project feasibility studies, scoping studies and assessments, business plan development and market research and analysis.
Kamanga said the output of the activities carried out using AFT grants help to provide a clear picture to Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) for further investments by fast-tracking promising agricultural and agribusiness ideas into bankable investments.
The pan-African bank held a workshop with stakeholders in Lilongwe on Tuesday to brief, consult and discuss issues pertaining to AFT Fund operations and how they can tap from the multi-billion kwacha fund.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development director of irrigation services Geofrey Mamba said stakeholders in the agriculture sector have an opportunity to expand through the fund if they are well focused.
“This is one of those opportunities that we lack in Malawi and I would urge stakeholders to understand the criteria for qualifying so that Malawi can benefit more from the fund,” he said.
Mamba said many agricultural projects, especially in irrigation, stall because of lack of funding and the AfDB window has been opened to ensure that these projects materialise.
The fund, which is managed by AfDB with support from United States Agency for International Development (USaid), Swedish International Development Agency and Danish International Development Agency (Danida), is one of the offshoots of commitments in the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition launched during the 2012 Africa Session at the Camp David G8 meeting in USA.
Other African countries expected to benefit from the fund are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania and were selected based on their agricultural productivity record.