The second day of Brazil Africa Forum 2019 started with a key discussion focused on agribusiness and the challenges related to finding a cooperative model and blending different perspectives to increase smallholder farmers’ access to financial resources. Joined the session: Mrs. Natália Dias, CEO of Standard Bank, Mr. Fayçal Benameur, Senior Vice President for East Africa of the OCP Group, Mrs. Marcela Brant, Commercial and Product Director of the Minas Gerais Development Bank (BDMG), Mr. Fadel Ndiame, Interim Vice President, Policy & State Capability of AGRA and Mr. Luiz Esteves, Chief Economist of Banco do Nordeste do Brasil (BNB).
Mr. Fayçal Benameur addressed that “half of Africa’s population lives in rural areas. 80% of them are small farmers and the lack of finance keeps them at the subsistence level. The major part of the finance for farmers comes from the non-governmental budget.”
According to Mr. Luis Esteves, there are many similarities between Brazil and Africa. The main one is the lack of investment for small rural producers, especially in Brazil’s Northeast region. “There’s this specific problem, where most of the producers don’t have any register of their land and it cannot be used as a guarantee for a long term investment”.
Along with that, extreme climatic conditions, such as drought, have its huge impact as well and banks tend to get uncomfortable when providing credit to those people. As a consequence, the producers don’t have access to new technologies and can’t improve their competitiveness.
Mrs. Natalia Dias brings some analytical perspectives and examples to demonstrate why Brazil’s exponential growth in agribusiness can contribute to the African continent: “When we mitigate and do the follow-up of productions, it is possible to understand some needs and expand our investment portfolio for the agriculture sector. Brazil could contribute to the African continent due to our expertise. It is necessary to be aware of that to promote changes.”
Mrs. Dias reinforced that, although the investment in the agricultural sector is recent, her bank has invested USD 5.5 billion in the last five years, in the African Continent.
Endorsing her speech, Mrs. Marcela Brant from BDMG praises our expertise on agribusiness and also the important role that international partnerships have taken in Brazil, for further research on climatic changes and renewable energy. “We should have a synergic approach with entrepreneurs in order to reach the desired outcomes.”
As a counterpoint, Mr. Fadel Ndiame has stated that “there are more than 50 countries in the continent. Experience and expertise are not the only things required to promote effective changes in Africa.” Regardless of that, during this discussion, that is far to be ended, but gets stronger each time people bring up these urges, he mentions that “agriculture is growing in the continent and we should be thankful for the initiatives of our own countries. We need to be innovative. We need to make sure that small farmers have access to technology. Public investment and infrastructure are necessary but it also needs to be attractive for the private sector.”
The 7th edition of Brazil Africa Forum, held in São Paulo on November 12th and 13th, came up with the main theme “Food security: Path to economic growth”. During the event, around 300 representatives from governments, private sector, academia and possible investors exchanged experiences, discussed valuable opportunities and also spread vast knowledge related to possible solutions for the eradication of hunger, along with the promotion of sustainable development in Brazil and countries of the African continent.