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25 - 26 June 2024, Landmark Centre, Lagos, Nigeria

AAC targets 10m smallholder farmers and agribusinesses

However, early stage, startup businesses and the full potential of smallholders farmers on the continent are still largely untapped, while investment in global start-ups has increased drastically.

African smallholder farmers and agribusiness startups need support to build resiliency and sustainability. A small improvement to their productivity via training, mentorship, access to better inputs and markets will have a huge impact on the industry and continent development. We are seeing existing and new financial institutions and firms introducing new finance models to help smallholder farmers and agribusiness startups access loans as well as training to boost productivity. However, there is still so much that can be done, said Ben Leyka, CEO at Africa Agri Council (AAC).

It is time to build resilience and sustainability for the long term said Mr Leyka. The African Agri Council (AAC) has launched the Market Support Programme (MSP) to address this gap.

MSP is designed and developed to assist entrepreneurs on their journey from soil to store. The programme will target 10 million smallholder farmers and agribusiness startups in the next 10 years. Small scale farmers and early stage agribusinesses have limited access to the assets that would facilitate a shift from low-productivity subsistence farming to modern, commercial agribusiness. We are committed, through MSP, to provide an integrated programme that facilitates the long awaited shift, said Mr Leyka.

Market Support Programme analyses gaps in farming production, product development, technical and operational capabilities to establish what the market and buyers’ needs are so that interventions can be implemented to allow easier access to targeted markets. “We address gaps such as branding, marketing and certifications which are buyers’ requirements” said Debbie Payne, Director Market Support at AAC.

MSP first identifies local markets closer to the farm or facility, then looks outward to national markets and exports into Africa and the rest of the world. Each market has needs which MSP experts have identified to facilitate easier access by its beneficiaries as we work on their sustainability, said Mrs Payne.

Company leaders are very important to their business operations; they lead by example to take the company to the next level, manage all aspects of the business, know their strengths and assemble a team with relevant expertise. With this in mind, MSP conducts two assessments; entrepreneur and company assessment – with this information, our experts are able to tailor our support and help grow sustainable businesses.

With mentoring, coaching and a three years AAC premium membership, MSP experts work with its beneficiaries and take them on a journey to sustainability along the value chain. The value chain universe covers hundreds of sub sectors serving myriad crops, livestock, processing activities, agriculture technologies (agtech) and customer needs. MSP gives the company the tools while the entrepreneur or the farmer takes action. As the old saying goes “give them a fishing rod and show them how to fish’ is more sustainable because it gives skills and therefore allows the company to eventually stand alone and become the leaders of the future” said Mrs Payne.

MSP works along the whole value chain from the guidance of what needs to be grown according to market needs through the journey from the fields to the end user being buyers and consumers. The AAC, through MSP, is working with a network of local, regional and international buyers to understand their specific requirements regarding products, labelling, certifications etc, and use this information to guide our beneficiaries in their production processes and product development. MSP provides a new channel of demand for the programme beneficiaries and certified supply for our buyers said Ben Leyka, CEO at AAC.

As a member of the AAC, MSP beneficiaries have access to the vast network of buyers, aggregators and investors. We encourage the combination of innovation with entrepreneurship to develop agribusinesses across the continent by increasing farmer productivity with market led value chain strategies.

MSP benefits

  • Offer technical advice and monitor adherence to technical recommendations to meet market requirements
  • Render innovation advice to improve understanding of the market trends and processing needs
  • Identify potential market opportunities in niche markets and or general mainstream at local, national and international level
  • Assist entrepreneurs to identify opportunities for produce to be grown
  • Opportunities to add value for a market need
  • To grow companies to be sustainable and create job opportunities by building a forceful team to compete on the world stage

Calls for beneficiaries, sponsors and buyers

Are you a startup agribusiness? Are you a smallholder farmer? Do you need support to take your business to the next level? Contact Debbie Payne to share your story and apply at [email protected].

The AAC and its sponsors will contribute directly to the development of 10 million agribusinesses in Africa over the next 10 years. Support our mission by sponsoring MSP beneficiaries. Contact Manuel Singano at [email protected].

The AAC is working with local, regional and international buyers to understand their specific requirements regarding products, labelling, certifications etc, and use this information to guide our beneficiaries in their production processes and product development. Contact Debbie Payne at [email protected] and join our Buyer’s Network.

About the African Agri Council NPC (AAC)

The African Agri Council NPC (AAC) is a non profit pan African institution that promotes the development of sustainable food and agriculture in Africa. We are a network of key stakeholders connected to Africa’s entire food and agriculture business value chain.

We work with governments, investors and project owners and developers to accelerate investment into bankable agricultural projects, and bring together food and agriculture buyers and sellers and with a focus on attaining and improving access to regional and international markets.

Our networking platforms bring together thousands of members, partners, government representatives, investors, consultants, technology providers, retailers, farmers, aggregators and traders to connect, share knowledge and together help grow Africa’s agricultural sector. For more information go to

We run four annual events. These range in size from 400 to 950 participants. Our African Agri Investment Indaba (AAII) held in Cape Town is now Africa’s largest agribusiness and investment conference. The Investment Food Forum (IFF), Market Access Africa (MAA) and AFTI Summit have attracted a lot of interest from various stakeholders and partners. As a member, you will receive a discount off the registration fees of our events. Visit to see our upcoming event dates.

For more information get in touch with Cindy Euston-Brown via email [email protected] or go to

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