Agribusiness is the Word
Last week, the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa held a two-day conference titled "Farming is a Business: Strengthening Linkages and Skills to Transform Africa's Food Systems." The conference, which focused primarily on agribusiness and investing in African agriculture as a way to combat other issues in the region, was one of the first of its kind in DC. After all, agribusiness, until recently, has rarely been mentioned, let alone served as the primary topic of focus for Africa-related discussions.
Many prominent figures in the agriculture and African agribusiness fields spoke at the two-day conference, including H.E. Joaquim Alberto Chissano (the former President of the Republic of Mozambique), H.E. John Kufuor (the former President of the Republic of Ghana), Jeannot Ahoussou-Kouadio (Prime Minister of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire), Greg Simpkins (Professional Staff Member for the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health), and Maria Helena Semedo (Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa for UN FAO) to name a few. Each reiterated the significance of promoting farming in Africa, especially to the African youth, and taking advantage of the increasing amount of investments coming into the continent.
H.E. Joaquim Alberto Chissano, for example, noted that "Africa, instead of receiving food aid, should be the source of food for the world" because of the continent's high potential in the agriculture sector. H.E. then added that agriculture is also important for Africa because "agriculture is critical to uplift people, families, and communities out of poverty."
In addition to speeches from the panel, three breakout sessions also took place throughout the two-day conference. Each of the four groups focused on one of the following topics: modernizing smallholder farming, meeting the food and nutrition demands of an urbanizing Africa, mainstreaming finance for food systems development in Africa, and developing jobs and skills for tomorrow's farms and agribusinesses. Following the three breakout sessions, all participants then congregated again to go over highlights from each session's discussions. The common thread between each breakout session, youth involvement and partaking in key opportunities and promising business models, tied the individual sessions back to the conference's overarching theme of realizing Africa's full potential in agriculture and agribusiness.
Following the end of day two, it became clear that Africa is not only becoming increasingly important to investors and the global market, but that it is only a matter of time before more people pay attention to agriculture and agribusinesses in Africa.
What do you think? Is focusing on agribusiness important for sub-Saharan Africa and if so, why? Let us know in the comments below!
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