At the launch of the New Alliance last year, President Obama pledged that global leaders would “fast-track new agricultural projects so they reach those in need even quicker,” developing and advancing a pipeline of promising agricultural ideas and businesses into profitable commercial investments.
This need is particularly pronounced in Africa, where high start-up costs for agriculture projects often dissuade the private sector from investing. In countries where the necessary agricultural systems and facilities are lacking, new business ventures may take a long time to become profitable, and companies are faced with risks and upfront costs that are both too high.
The Agriculture Fast Track, a new and first-of-its kind joint effort by the African Development Bank, the Government of Sweden and the U.S. Agency for International Development, addresses these constraints to growth by establishing a fund aimed at increasing the number of investment-ready infrastructure projects and public-private partnerships in Africa. Launched at the annual Grow Africa Investment Forum in early May, the Agriculture Fast Track will defray some of the project start-up costs that commercial developers or development finance institutions are unable to shoulder alone, unlocking the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars in financing for improved roads, irrigation, electricity and other essential infrastructure and extension needs in Africa’s agriculture sector.
One of the first firms that will benefit from this new commitment to agricultural infrastructure is Fruiteq, a Burkina Faso-based private company that exports fresh and processed mangoes to Europe. Fruiteq wants to expand its processing capacity and will receive assistance in financial assessment, legal counsel and technical design.