From March 9-13, the Southern Africa Trade Hub facilitated the first ever investment mission by the Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) to Malawi in partnership with the Agricultural Commodity Exchange for Africa (ACE). AFD, an agency of the French state, is a development finance institution that provides investment, de-risking, and technical assistance in support of social and economic development across emerging markets.
AFD is active in the region in countries such as South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe but has not yet engaged in Malawi. As a development agency with an explicit mandate to generate social and economic development impact, AFD's focus is on the rural and small and medium enterprise (SME) sectors. The purpose of the mission was to explore the potential for a large-scale investment into agricultural storage as part of the Trade Hub's Agricultural Storage Investment Fund (ASIF) strategy.
As part of the intensive week-long mission, AFD met with government, private sector (banks, agribusiness as well as SMEs), international organizations, and civil society in Blantyre and Lilongwe.The fundamental aim of the mission was for AFD to understand the activities and impacts of ACE as a warehouse receipt system and commodity exchange, and the role of warehousing as the key access point for commodity value chain participants to storage, finance, and markets.
A particular highlight was the field trip to the Kafulu Farmers’ Association warehouse—a rural warehouse that is accredited to ACE's warehouse receipt system and commodity exchange.The trip provided an opportunity to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with investments in rural warehousing and listen to the perspectives of the farmers’ association, ACE logistics managers, as well as farmers' national representative bodies, the Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM), and the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (NASFAM).