Agriculture is a business

As the AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina stated, Agriculture is a business. As such, Africa needs to move away from solely producing raw consumables and invest more in value-added processing units and branded food products. This requires, amongst other things: strengthening the business skills of entrepreneurs; creating platforms for dialogue; and increasing access to finance. As a matter of priority, the linkages within the value chain need to be strengthened, connecting agribusiness hubs, universities and culinary schools. Kitchen/culinary incubators can play an important part in this. By offering shared commercial kitchen space to help early-stage catering, retail and wholesale companies, foodpreneurs can more easily get their businesses off the ground. The main draw of a kitchen incubator is that, by clustering under the same roof, the businesses share costs. Incubators can catalyse the growth of businesses, jobs and culture supported by mentorship programmes, technical support and assistance with funding and business support. Like many other economic activities in Africa, large segments of the food value chain are mainly informal. Development partners and policy-makers therefore need to find ways to work with the informal sector in order to contribute to building an African cuisine value chain.

A holistic approach to agriculture as a business needs to be promoted, raising awareness of the different career opportunities and relationships between actors in this sector: from farmer to chef. By working together, the AfDB, governments, private sector, universities and other actors can offer young women and men the opportunity to pursue these diverse careers. Measures including vocational training, financial literacy, and access to resources and networks will help them build their skills and produce easy-to-market products, which will lead to increased and improved productivity, increased employment and the transmission of know-how.