Monday, 22 June 2009

The first EMRC AgriBusiness Forum in Africa

14 - 17 June, Cape Town, South Africa. EMRC organized the Agri-Business Forum under the patronage of the Department of Agriculture of the Republic of South Africa and in partnership with the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, the FAO and Rabobank Foundation. Judging by the high-level status of the approximately 350 international state and private-sector delegates attending the AgriBusiness Forum 2009, held in Somerset West some 70 kilometres from Cape Town - not to mention their willingness to part with the roughly $2,000 attendance fee - there is a high level of interest in participating in what has been tagged a ‘second green revolution’.

The 350 delegates came from Africa, Europe, Asia and America, including heads of governments and senior officials, entrepreneurs, investors, banks, research institutions and international organizations to examine alternative and sustainable solutions for a rapid growth in food and agricultural sectors, looking at the food crisis not as a threat but rather as an opportunity for smallholders to increase production. It provided an avenue for constructive debate between all stakeholders involved in Africa’s agriculture and agro-food development.
FARA moderated the session on “Increasing and Maintaining Competitiveness”. Dr. Idit Miller gave an elaborate introduction of FARA, presented Dr. Monty Jones to the delegates and apologized for his absence.

FARA’s presence at the Forum was important as this contributed to one of the conclusions on the role and importance of agricultural research and development in enhancing productivity. Briefly, the conclusions were as follows:

  • Growth of agri-business sector in Africa requires a favorable environment. Governments should therefore create the necessary favorable policy environment in order to promote agri-business.
  • Adequate infrastructure is critical for growth in agriculture to occur. Governments should therefore increase investments in rural infrastructure in order to promote agri-business.
  • Agricultural research and development is the key to increased agricultural productivity. For Africa to increase agricultural productivity there is a need to increase the scale and scope of agricultural research and development on the continent. This requires all parties involved – public and private sectors – to work together.
  • Market access is a key component of agricultural development. The EMRC therefore calls upon the European Commission to remove barriers to trade and promote south-south and north-south trade relations.


A microfinance institution from Cameroon, MUPECI, was awarded the EMRC-Rabobank Project Incubator Award of $10,000, which aims to help boost the economy of an African country. The funds will be used to help finance farmers to produce soy. By funding organised groups in rural areas, Augustin Yemene, MUPECI chairman, said he hopes to reduce poverty and food shortages, curb the exodus from rural areas and bolster the country’s supplies of soy.
Pierre van Hedel of Rabobank Foundation and Idit Miller of EMRC with Augustin Yemene of MUPECI.