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Current focus and key challenges

Our investments target the development of local supply chains to increase efficient production. It has played a substantial role in introducing financing schemes that tackle the chronic lack of capital in the sector. It has also intensified its policy dialogue efforts, bringing together investors, distributors, processors and retailers in collaboration with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, to stimulate discussion on the possibilities of improving agricultural practices and removing current obstacles.

The region still faces substantial transition challenges that prevent it from exploiting its large unrealised production potential. In order to realise this potential fully, persistent market inefficiencies throughout the food chain must be addressed – from insufficient competition and cumbersome administrative barriers in retail and distribution, low quality standards and productivity in processing and packaging, to inadequate access to finance, weak institutions and policies in primary agriculture.

The main challenges include inefficient farming techniques, inputs and agricultural machinery as well as bottlenecks to export (such as the lack of sufficient transport infrastructure and storage facilities). The farming sector is additionally affected by pressing policy and regulatory issues such as unclear land property rights, inadequate access to finance and fragmented land ownership. Progress still needs to be made in the development of clear, long-term policies and legislation to attract sufficient private sector investment to enable the agricultural sector to access finance through collateralisation. Further, the agricultural potential of the region is still undermined by unsatisfactory quality standards and weak local brands, fragmented production units and inefficient retail formats and distribution networks that need to be addressed via a mix of private sector investment and specific policy dialogue.

Last updated 26 April 2010