As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold and governments adopt different containment strategies and responses, experts are discussing current and future impacts in many areas. In this context, attention to the impact of the crisis on agricultural value chains and food systems has been growing, and so has recognition of the challenges facing particularly micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the sector. Yet, a structured reflection around the impact of COVID-19 on demand and supply of agri-SME finance remains needed.
This reflection is of momentous importance, given that MSMEs are the backbone of agricultural supply chains in most developing countries. Many of these enterprises struggle even in “normal” times to access the range of financial services they need. Today, many are reporting new challenges due to restrictions on labour movement, logistical bottlenecks, and falls in market demand, all of which impact on their financial needs as well as on their capacity to repay loans.
While these are all highly location and value chain specific, similar needs and concerns are being reported in different countries and regions. Many governments and financial institutions are taking measures to help keep afloat SMEs, mostly with a focus on immediate response, but measures to ensure longer-term resilience are likely to be soon needed, given projected impact on economies, jobs and incomes.
This panel will kick-start a conversation among some key actors in the agri-SME finance sector about what impacts we are seeing and what we will likely see in the future, what the data is telling us and where key information gaps are, and what remains relevant and what needs rethinking in terms of policies, institutional arrangements, financial products, and delivery mechanisms.
The objective is two-fold. First, it is to illuminate areas where information gaps are critical and to think about how to fill them. Second, it is to point to areas where existing tools and approaches can be deployed and those where new solutions need to be developed.
The webinar is organised by the Smallholder and Agri-SME Finance and Investment Network (SAFIN).
ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION:
CEO of CGAP and Director at the World Bank Group
Chief Economist and Assistant Director-General at FAO
Chief Executive Officer, AGRICORD
Secretary General, African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA)
President and CEO of the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership