Promoting sustainable agriculture and trade for inclusive growth

Addressing inequalities through private sector development and investment 

High-Level Panel: 19 June, 14:30-16:00 Room A1

Promoting innovative sustainable agricultural business models in developing countries, and in Africa in particular, can strengthen national and regional economic development and contribute to the implementation of 2030 Agenda. Sustainable impact investments in food production and trade can create decent jobs through new transformative partnerships. The potential of trade and business cooperation is key to support the development of agri-food enterprises and fully maximise trade and enhancing new markets in regional and global value chains. Inclusive and remunerative business models which address the inequality factors across the value chains need to be shared and upscaled. New skills development able to match the market needs in value-addition products, blending facilities and innovative finance solutions to scale up are needed.

The high-level panel addressed the inequality factor which needs to be addressed to promote inclusive agriculture and trade growth and the smart policies and investments needed to expand trade in a way which benefits local economies and the value chain actors in developing countries.

The findings from the report of the Task Force for Rural Africa (TFRA), the yearly Africa Agriculture Trade Monitor (AATM) by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), CTA, BMZ and GIZ contributed to the debate the debate.

Key points

  • African agriculture holds important potential for economic growth, job creation and import substitution.
  • African farmers will need to take advantage of new smart technologies, but should not necessarily follow the mechanisation models of industrialised countries.
  • There is some evidence that small-scale rather than large-scale farming is more productive.
  • Private investment could provide some of the finance for African agricultural expansion, but foreign investors are looking for predictability and reliable judicial systems.
  • Transparency throughout the agricultural value chain will be needed, to ensure that both the producers and the consumers really benefit from the sector’s potential.


Agriculture will provide many opportunities for economic growth and job creation in the coming years, particularly in Africa. The advent of the African Continental Free Trade Area will liberalise the potential of the African agricultural market and could create millions of jobs for young Africans. Most of the growing demand for food could be met through increased national and regional production in Africa. But if the current reliance on imported food continues, Africa’s import bill is projected to increase to US$110m by 2025. However, regionalisation of agricultural trade faces a number of obstacles, not least the very large gap in agricultural technology between some African countries and others. It could also conflict with the national self-sufficiency policies of some African countries, for example as regards rice. But achieving an agricultural value chain that truly benefits all is a matter of policy as much as economics. It should be made easier for the private sector to participate in the development of African agriculture. The pyramid of the agricultural industry has a “missing middle” when it comes to financing, it was suggested. The big corporations have no difficulty in attracting capital. The smallest farmers are increasingly well catered to by microfinance initiatives. But medium-scale agricultural businesses are left out. Investment from outside Africa could help here. However, foreign investors are looking for predictability, transparency and reliable judicial systems. African agriculture needs to modernise. But it should not necessarily follow the mechanisation and industrialisation models adopted by Europe and North America in the 20th century. There is evidence that small agricultural enterprises are more productive than the larger ones. Smallholders manage only 12 % of the agricultural land, but produce more than 80 % of the world’s food. Capacity building will be important to enable small and medium agricultural enterprises to take advantage of smart technology. The growing demand for organic food could also open up new market opportunities for African farmers. In addition, greater African processing of African agricultural produce could create many new jobs both in both rural and urban areas. One case mentioned by several speakers was cashew nuts, which Africa mainly exports unprocessed


Climate change is already having a significant impact on African agriculture. Farmers often grow just one kind of crop and this can leave them vulnerable. Maize, for example, is a major staple crop, but needs a lot of water. Diversification will be needed towards more drought-resistant crops.



Michael HAILU
Director, CTA


 Patrick GOMES
Secretary General, ACP Secretariat

Leonard MIZZI
 Head of Unit, Rural Development, Food Security, Nutrition at Europeaid, European commission

Isabelle DURANT
Deputy Secretary General, UNCTAD

Zhi Yong HENG
Principal/Head of Trade Finance & Special Situations Group, TLG Capital

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mooto Cashew Suppliers Ltd, Zambia

– Concepción BLANCO
Head of Sustainable Finance Solutions, Microfinance Foundation of the BBVA Bank

Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI



Click here for more info on this event on the EDD website

Resources & Past events 

  • Brussels Briefing 54 “Sustainable agriculture: where are we on SDGs implementation?”
    27th February 2019Organised by CTA, the European Commission (DG Devco), the ACP Secretariat and CONCORD.
  • Brussels Briefing 47 “Regional Trade in Africa: Drivers, Trends and Opportunities”
    3rd February 2017Organised by CTA, in collaboration with IFPRI, the European Commission (DG Devco), the ACP Secretariat, and CONCORD.
  • Recent trends and Outlook in African Agricultural Trade
    18th February 2019. InfoPoint Lunchtime conference Organised by IFPRI and CTA.
  •  EDD 2018 “Going Digital: Sustainable development in agriculture for women”
    Debate,  5th June 2018. Organised by  ACP Secretariat,  CTA , ACP-EU TradecomII, PAFO and WIBDI
  • EDD 2017 “Boosting Investment for ACP Inclusive Trade and Development”
    Debate,  7th June 2017. Organised by ACP-EU TBT Programme ACP-EU TradecomII, and CTA
  • EDD 2017  “Promoting inclusive trade in Africa”
    Debate,  8th June 2017 Organised by CTA, ACP-EU Tradecom II Programme and ACP-EU TBT Programme