The Africa Food Systems Forum 2023 kicks off next week. This is what the agri-finance community should look out for at the event.

As global leaders convene in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania this September to unpack youth and women-centred ways to build back African food systems, here is a guide for agri-finance professionals following the summit.


The Africa Food Systems Forum has long been a central meeting point for Heads of State, investors, executive leaders, farmers and agricultural experts to explore ways to help Africa sustainably feed itself and the world. Hosted by the Government of Tanzania, this year’s summit will take place under the theme ‘Recover, Regenerate, Act: Africa’s Solutions to Food Systems Transformation’. With a multitude of sessions to choose from throughout the five-day affair, here are six sessions not to miss if you are passionate about ensuring that agricultural SMEs in Africa can access the capital they need to grow and thrive.

  1. Better support for small and growing businesses in agriculture

Supporting agricultural SMEs to improve their business performance and secure funding is no easy task. Business development services (BDS) are a crucial part of these efforts, but it is often difficult to assess when and how these services really make a difference for businesses in the sector. At 4:00-5:30 pm EAT on 05 September 2023, a BDS provider, funder, investor and agribusiness will come together in a side event organized by the Smallholder and Agri-SME Finance and Investment Network (SAFIN) and Agribusiness Market Ecosystem Alliance (AMEA) to share their experiences and ideas of how to build a professional BDS sector.

  1. Facing fragility in African agriculture

Extended drought, rapid inflation and a global pandemic are among the challenges that family businesses in agriculture have faced over the past three years. In some contexts, this was coupled with conflict, weak public institutions or deterioration of natural resources, making the economics of growing such businesses responsibly even more challenging. How have agricultural and rural businesses responded? A session organized by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) at 02:00-03:30 pm EAT on 04 September 2023 will explore coping and growth strategies adopted by these businesses and illustrate good practices in developing agricultural value chains in fragile contexts.

  1. Getting green finance in agriculture right

It is no secret that increasing investment in ‘greener’ agriculture is essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. However, the jury is still out on how best to structure and assess climate finance models that can successfully be scaled or replicated. In an interactive masterclass at the AGRF on 06 September from 9:00 – 11:00 am EAT hosted by SAFIN and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), sector experts will guide participants on how to design, manage and monitor the impact of climate fund facilities. Participants will leave the session with new tools and resources to engage more actively in the launch or scale of green finance solutions in the agriculture sector.

  1. What is the real cost of food security in Africa?

Where does Africa currently stand in terms of food security? Which challenges persist in its agricultural value chains? A panel of seasoned experts will take the floor at a side event organized by AFEX at 4:00-5:30pm EAT on 04 September 2023 to answer these questions and discuss how financing, climate change and trade profoundly affect the continent’s food systems. The session will bring to light innovative and sustainable solutions to these challenges that can be scaled across Africa.

  1. Backing Africa’s young agripreneurs

Africa boasts the youngest population and the most farmland on Earth, but youth participation in agriculture remains low. The continent‎’s full agricultural potential is largely untapped because young people cannot access capital for their ventures in the sector. Finance and technology experts will engage with young agri-preneurs in a session organized by Heifer International at 12:30-2:00 pm EAT on 04 September 2023 to explore opportunities to serve youth in agriculture through equitable, innovative financing mechanisms.

  1. Funnelling finance to farmer organizations

Since its inception, SAFIN has brought farmer organizations together with investors and development partners to explore their specific investment needs and financing solutions. Building on a survey taken by over 200 farmer organizations on this subject, SAFIN, IFAD and AFEX will host a session on 04 September 2023 at 10:45 am-12:15 pm EAT exploring successful approaches, challenges and policy changes needed to step up financing to these critical organizations during an age of crises. The session will feature organizations from across the agricultural investment continuum.

Get ready for the sessions: Five pre-reads for the AGRF 2023 Summit

Learn more: SAFIN at the AGRF 2023