About 65 per cent of the African population lives in rural areas and relies on agriculture as the prime source of income; this is according to John Magnay, head of agriculture finance at Opportunities International.
Opportunity International is a non-governmental organisation working to end global poverty by creating/sustaining 20 million jobs by 2020.
The head of agriculture finance called for improved investment in the sector as a step towards ending poverty, creating household disposable incomes and jobs in the region.
“We started doing agriculture financing in 2008 and at the time we thought that our main risks would be weather, pests’ disease and market failure,” said Magnay.
“[We now] realise that the main risk we have is related to our relationship with our customers.”
Magnay called for a more structured value chain in the sector.
“If you are not working closely in a structured value chains it can be a challenge to put financing to farmers and to address this challenge we work with in partnership with value chain actors,” he says.
“Some of the actors include technical services and we identify were our customers will be marketing their crops.”
He said the company does not assist all farmers but identifies the needy and those with much focus in the sector
“We need to identify farmers and farming organisations that look at farming as a business. Among farmers we have been working for over the past few years, we are starting to see their yields improving.”