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Efficient market systems that respond to demand and supply of technologies and ensure small holder farmers have the necessary inputs at the right time, right quantities and quality and can access output markets is essential for Africa’s agriculture to effectively grow incomes for the farmer, business and country.
Agricultural technology, especially higher yielding and adaptable crop varieties have the potential to not only improve food security but also accelerate and transform African agriculture and economies. However, the slow adoption of new technologies, from improved seeds through to mechanization, has delayed realization of the benefits of these technologies by smallholders who make up 80 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s farms. This deficiency is in part due to an under-developed private sector and the failure of market systems to bring new technologies swiftly to the end users. Challenges to both the supply and demand sides of the agricultural input value chain and lack of access to capital or to credit for smallholders that would allow them to invest in more advanced technologies remain. In addition, access to output markets, within countries and across borders, is also constrained by several factors, including infrastructure, policy and a lack of financing.
Improving and streamlining the market systems in the region will produce substantial benefits to the agriculture sector by reducing the cost of doing business for all players in the agricultural value chain including farmers, seed companies, agro-dealers and consumers. Making markets work for African agriculture and helping farmers to access new technologies and inputs could spur a transformation of the wider economy. According to World Bank estimates, the African agriculture sector could more than triple in size by 2030, from US$300 billion today to US$1 trillion, driving strides forward in poverty reduction and food security.