Tuesday, 10 December 2013

FARA Champions the Discussion on Agricultural Research and Development at the Brazil-Africa Leadership Forum 2013

The South-South partnership is fast becoming vital to the development of the Africa continent in the coming years; this is in the light of the emerging development of these regions and growing trade between Africa and the countries in the South. Africa seems to stand at the center of the manifold increase in the BRICS trade in the last ten years as the BRICS countries now trade more with Africa than with each other.Brazil is gradually becoming a vital strategic partner in the Africa developmental issues, such as agriculture, infrastructure and technical cooperation. The well-known old similarities between Brazil and Africa in terms of culture, development circumstances, agricultural situation etc., make the country a more potent source of lesson and partnership for the Africa continent. The development of agriculture in Brazil has been attributed to the countries concerted efforts towards investments in sector towards research for generation of relevant technologies, infrastructural development and supportive policies.The Brazil-Africa leadership forum for 2013, was organized by the Financial Times Live, on the 27th of November 2013, the forum assembled leading trade, finance, business and agricultural research and development experts to discuss the future of Brazil-Africa trade and cooperation. The forum also examined the activities of the government of both continents towards trade policies that drives economic development around the prime sectors. The agricultural sector is considered as a key sector driving development in the two continents; issues around how the Brazil success in the agricultural sector can inform Africa agricultural transformation drive was examined in a panel discussion. FARA representative alongside with the representatives of Standard Bank of Africa, IFAD and Pinesso Group participated in the session.Africa agriculture stands as a “Bundle of Potentials” that are yet to be unlocked, unlocking the potentials will require all it takes to make Africa agriculture yield its contribution to national economy growth and the wellbeing of Africa majority that depends on it for their livelihood. While the spate of agricultural technologies remains an issue for urgent attention, there are many institutional and infrastructural issues that would still limits benefits from the best technologies if they are not addressed. The on-going strategic alliance program between Brazil and Africa on agriculture named “Africa-Brazil Innovation Market Place” has fostered series of collaboration between Africa researchers and Brazilian researcher from EMBRAPA. This has led to exchange of germplasm, technologies and different production and processing techniques. The projects within this partnership have generated a handful of successes that could be scaled-up and out for the benefits of more farmers in Africa. However, Africa will benefits a lot better from this strategic alliance if it’s debilitating infrastructure deficit could find a solution within this strategic alliance, especially if it could draw the attention of the Brazilian investors in bridging the financing gap for infrastructure development in Africa.Apparently, the growth of Africa agriculture will be driving by its growing middle class population which had its height of 33% in 2012. The demand for more processed commodities will increase compared to raw commodities, while the supermarket mode of retailing agricultural food commodities will also grow.  This projection could be satisfied either by importation of the processed and packaged commodities or a response from within Africa to develop its commodity value chain. The latter is the best for the continent and could be achieved by development of infrastructure, acquisition of needed technologies for post-harvest processing and provision of affordable financing for the willing investors.Possibly, the share of Africa in agricultural commodity trade at the global level is very low compared to other continents in the short run; it may increase in the medium term, if the necessary investments are made to support the sector. But it will surely increase steadily in the long term based on reported availability of 60% of the available arable land in Africa.The efforts of FARA to foster the development of agriculture on the continent have generated a number of initiatives that could fast-track the development of the sector. The debut IAR4D concept has been proven to foster quick and higher returns from agricultural research and development efforts; while its Innovative Fund for Agricultural transformation (IFAT) has projected an innovative mechanism for extension of affordable credit to transform the smallholders to small scale enterprises. As it relates to the developing appropriate technologies, FARA is working with all stakeholders in Africa agriculture to develop the Africa Agricultural Science Agenda; this is expected to drive the direction of the Africa agricultural research for development. The role of Brazil-Africa collaboration is vital and a positive partner that is willing to aid the Africa agricultural development.