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African Free Trade Agreement, A Great Opportunity For SME’s- Director GAIN

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Dr. Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) ,recently said the African Continental Free Trade agreement which came into place on 1st January 2021 is a great opportunity for African SMEs especially those supplying nutritious foods because it offers a platform for them to grow and shape their food system in a way that is more equitable, sustainable and nutritious.

Dr. Haddad made this opening remarks at the launch of Nutrition Conversations Africa on the 14th of July 2021.

Nutrition Conversations Africa is a platform that will enable exchange of ideas on best practices for nutrition in Africa. The initial webinar under this platform addressed ways in which nutritious food SMEs can take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

At the webinar even , it was realized that SMEs in Africa fail to launch off efficiently or totally fail to launch fully due to challenges arising from financing. Dr. Martin Fregene, Director  Agriculture and Agro-Industry at African Development Bank (AfDB) said through the Directory of Agriculture and Agro-Industry has made it possible for African SMEs in the food and nutrition sector to access finances that will enable them to scale up their businesses and offer more efficient services to the consumers.

“We have three programmes that have come into effect as a result of the African Continental Free Trade agreement; One is the wholesale credit guarantee schemes which will see the AfDB guarantee up to 80 per cent pay back on financing for banks supporting SMEs in nutrition.

“Second is the Agribusiness Deal Room which will provide direct financial support to SMEs in agriculture and nutrition and third, we are working at financing cross border agricultural and nutritious food movement by financing the development of physical infrastructure and building food safety facilities in different African countries to allow easier movement of safe and nutritious foods without major challenges,” he noted

Also at the event , Commissioner of Agriculture, Kaduna State, Hajiya Halima Lawal said large populations are often vulnerable to the burden of malnutrition due to various contexts, which must be factored in the conversation.

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