This is according to the second Grow Africa annual report which was released on Monday by Grow Africa, a partnership platform between the African Union (AU), the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to accelerate the transformation of Africa’s agriculture through the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
Of the 7.2 billion US dollars in new commitments, the Grow Africa partners have already invested 970 million US dollars, which has directly led to the creation of 33,000 new jobs and has assisted 2.6 million smallholder African farmers with provisions of new services, sourcing, contracts or training.
(READ MORE: farmers vital to Africa's agricultural transformation)
The investment is also in line with the World Bank’s African agriculture growth forecast, which they believe will triple in size by 2030 to become a 1 trillion US dollar industry.
(READ MORE: Agriculture to become Africa's new frontier for growth)
Most investments to date have been made by African based companies while half of the invested funds have been towards Nigeria due to the size of its economy, as well as its government’s renewed political commitment to agriculture which has attracted domestic and international investors.
(WATCH VIDEO: Nigerian agriculture sector to create 3.5 million jobs by 2015)
The Grow Africa annual report also highlighted a number of best practices for African farmers looking to scale up their businesses. It also discusses new public sector bodies such as the Agricultural Transformation Agency in Ethiopia, as well as frameworks to attract private investments into specific regions like Tanzania’s Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor.
The report however noted that Africa’s agriculture sector must address a number of challenges such as the lack of access to relevant financial products and the fragmented relationship between public and private institutions, before it can reach its full potential.
“The 2013 Grow Africa report shows good progress on many fronts, but overall, it shows that the level of investment, and the speed and reliability of reforms to the sector remain too slow to be truly transformative for Africa’s smallholders,” said Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, chief executive officer (CEO) of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency.
“Governments must accelerate action to improve the enabling environment in response to market priorities and the private sector must innovate and be willing to take on and share risk."
(READ MORE: Investment essential to boost agriculture growth)
Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, commissioner for rural economy & agriculture at the African Union, added that there also needs to be more focus on the inclusion of female farmers.
“The year 2014 is a clarion call for concerted efforts by governments, farmers, development partners and private sector players to sustain CAADP momentum. In particular, we need to ensure well-designed public investments in agriculture result in better inclusion of women, who make up the bulk of smallholder farmers yet do not benefit equally from investments in agriculture,” she said.
Arne Cartridge, CEO if Grow Africa, stated that the partnerships’ focus for 2014 will on strengthening stakeholder relationships as well as empowering Africa’s youth.
“Grow Africa's focus for 2014 will remain on creating better linkages between stakeholders and projects to accelerate the speed of return on investment. We will also put specific emphasis on projects that engage African youth at a time when so many are moving to cities. Nearly 90 per cent of rural youth who work in agriculture contribute up to one third of Africa’s GDP (gross domestric product) and we cannot afford to lose this growth driver.”
The Grow Africa Investment Forum is set to take place in Abuja, Nigeria on the 6 to 9 May 2014.