Panelists at the third virtual forum of this year’s Citi Business Festival have offered varied insights into the potential of Ghana’s agricultural sector to turn around the fortunes of the country if the right steps are taken by policymakers to support agribusinesses.
Ghana imports about $2 billion worth of food and food products into the country annually.
With a youthful population, swathes of arable land, water sources, and favourable climatic conditions, the panelists believe that Ghana should be able to produce enough of all its food needs for local consumption and even more for export.
Against this background, the Citi Business Festival in its third week on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, sought to bring to Ghanaians well-informed conversations and in-depth analysis of Ghana’s agribusiness industry and opportunities therein.
The forum, which was under the theme ‘Feeding Ghana with a sound import substitution strategy”, was live on Citi TV and on the station’s social media platforms.
The panelists, comprisig James Boateng – Founder Kwafre Farms (Former National Best Farmer), Catherine Krobo Edusei – Agribusiness Entrepreneur and CEO of Eden Tree and William Nettey- Head of Agribusiness ABSA, Kwesi Korboe – Agric Economist and MD of GIRSAL and Benjamin Gyan Kesse – Director of the Kosmos Innovation Center engaged in discussions on effective ways of developing Ghana’s agribusiness space.
Being reliable and consistent, critical for growth – Eden Tree CEO to startups
The founder and Chief Executive officer of Eden Tree Ghana Limited, Catherine Krobo Edusei, advised startups and those aspiring to venture into the agribusiness space to strive to be consistent and reliable in terms of the services and the products they provide, in order to excel in the sector.
“You have to be consistent. Sometimes when supermarkets sign on a supplier, when they request supplies, some startups give several excuses, including claims that they are attending funerals.
“Once that happens, the supermarkets lose their trust in you. You have to be consistent. At Eden Tree, we supply every blessed day of the week, except Sundays. Once that happens, they trust your brand and deal with you. You have to be reliable,” she said.
Prioritize quality to get spots in major supermarkets – Startups urged
The founder of Kwafre Farms and 2018 National Best Farmer, James Boateng, also indicated that it is possible for local agribusiness entrepreneurs to have their products listed in major supermarkets if they produce quality products and provide convincing sales pitches.
Mr. Boateng said while major supermarkets are not under any obligation to list local products on their shelves, local products can break in if they are of high quality and fit into the market demands of the supermarkets.
“We need to remind ourselves that it is a free market situation we operate in, and there is an extent to which these regulators can do some enforcements… I think it is basically about persistence. Sometimes we assume that if you walk into Shoprite and you have a locally produced product because it is a South African [firm], the perception is that they bring the majority of their products from South Africa, [so] they cannot list local products,” he said.
Multinationals, financial firms must partner to support agribusinesses – William Nettey
The Head of Agribusiness at Absa Bank Ghana, William Nettey, said it is critical for multinational firms to partner with local financial institutions to support such persons.
According to him, this partnership will go a long way to establish firms within the agribusiness space, and also help in reducing unemployment in the country.
“We expect that the big multinationals will link up with financial institutions so that we will be able to reach more out-growers. We have talked about commercial farming, which is great for us. Once it’s commercial, it makes a lot of sense.”
“We think that one of the ways to get the multinationals or the bigger companies involved is to link them up to financial institutions where we will be able to reach out to them. In terms of the youth, we at ABSA are working closely with some of these fintechs to be able to develop their products. Most of them are really young, so you need to nurture them by providing them with training, start-up products to be able to develop to a point where investments can be made.”
Dialogue with policymakers to ensure the growth of local agriproducts
The Managing Director of Ghana Incentive-based Risk-sharing System for Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL), Kwasi Korboe, also called for greater collaboration and engagement between the private sector and policymakers in a bid to improve the production and processing of agriproducts in the country.
Mr. Korboe explained that the lack of effective collaboration between the private sector and policymakers would lead to a continuous increase in the rate of importation of agriproducts into the country at the expense of the local private sector investors.
“Unless the private sector stands up and is heard, and tells those in [power] that this is the way forward, we will have a situation where expectations are not met, and we will not be able to accelerate and reduce in the relatively short time the importation of rice in the country.”
“Something is going on, but we need to dialogue and be clear where we all stand,” he added.
The Citi Business Festival is an extensive program of business events and on-air activities providing inspiration, business ideas, and information to persons who are starting, building, or growing their businesses.
Held in June, the festival has lined virtual business forum aired live on Citi TV every Tuesday from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
The radio on-air series, on the Citi Breakfast Show at 9:20 am from Monday to Thursday, is themed to correspond with the various virtual forums.
The sessions on radio have been themed to correspond with the virtual fora.
This year’s edition is hinged on five thematic areas, namely:
Week 1: Digital Economy – Building a cashless society and the opportunities for business and job creation.
Week 2: Doing business in Ghana.
Week 3: AgriBusiness – Feeding Ghana with a sound import substitution strategy.
Week 4: Trade – AfCFTA: Opportunities for investment & Job creation in Ghana.
Week 5: Oil and Gas – The opportunities for indigenous businesses.
The Citi Business Festival is sponsored by Absa Bank, Ghana, with support from IT Consortium and the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC).
It is also powered by Citi FM, Citi TV, and Ghana’s most comprehensive business news website, www.citibusinessnews.com.