The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced $15 million in funding support for food systems in Africa at the just-ended Africa Food Systems Forum (AFSF) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Deputy USAID Administrator Isobel Coleman and Assistant to the Administrator for the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security Dina Esposito announced the new investments to support inclusive and resilient food systems in Africa.
The $15 million will provide targeted support to women, smallholder farmers, and small- and medium-sized businesses in food systems across the continent.
A statement from USAID said these investments are part of the supplemental funds deployed by the U.S. government through the Feed the Future initiative to address food insecurity and fertilizer price spikes in Africa.
Supporting women in agribusiness
During the opening session of the Forum’s Deal Room – a match-making venue to drive new agribusiness deals and commitments – Deputy Administrator Coleman announced a $4 million investment in AGRA’s VALUE4HER initiative, which is Africa’s first agribusiness digital marketplace specifically for women.
Seventy percent of women-owned small- and medium-sized businesses in developing countries cannot access financial services that meet their needs – a finance gap that drives gender inequality.
VALUE4HER, implemented by AGRA, will help women-led agribusiness overcome these barriers by enabling them to build business networks, raise capital, and connect with buyers, financiers, and other service providers.
Strengthening resilience to shocks
During a Forum roundtable on the vision for Africa’s fertilizer and soil health, Assistant to the Administrator for Resilience and Food Security Esposito announced a $5 million investment in Sustain Africa, an initiative that coordinates public and private sector partners to help smallholder farmers access affordable fertilizer, strengthen resilience to future fertilizer shocks, and ensure a stable and nutritious food supply.
With USAID’s support, the program will expand and improve its ability to track fertilizer price trends and signal when help is needed. This investment enables USAID and its private sector partners to help six million farmers in sub-Saharan Africa successfully grow crops, even in the face of shocks.
Investing in nutrition
During a reception at the close of the Forum’s first day, Deputy Administrator Coleman announced a $6 million investment, in partnership with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Incofin Investment Management, in the Nutritious Foods Financing Facility (N3F).
The first of its kind, N3F is an investment fund focused explicitly on improving diet quality and nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa through financing to small- and medium-enterprises involved in the provision of affordable, safe, and nutritious local food. The fund also prioritizes investments that advance gender equality and provide at least 30 percent of all loans to woman-owned or led small- and medium-sized businesses.
About Africa Food Systems Forum (AFSF)
Organised by AGRA, the AFSF is the world’s annual premier forum on African agriculture and food systems, bringing together stakeholders to take practical action and share lessons that will move African food systems forward. It was previously known as the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF).
5,400 delegates from over 90 countries around the world participated in this year’s forum, with 57% of participants being women. 5 heads of state and governments, 6 former heads of state, and 80 international agencies were also present.