Kigali – Nowhere is the development potential of agribusinesses greater than in Africa, and there are many inclusive agro-based business opportunities waiting to be materialized. It is estimated that the size of the agricultural market in Africa is about US$68.2Bn annually and growing, with US$49Bn of this being the size of the domestic market for staple foods (UNIDO, 2011).
As part of the East African Agro-industry and Agro-enterprise Development Programme (E3ADP), the EAC Secretariat in Arusha, Tanzania, together with FAO brought together over 30 delegates drawn from a cross-section of both public and private sector institutions charged with agriculture and natural resources. Other participants included delegates from trade and investment promotion, small industries, associations of manufacturers, Farmers’ Federations; representatives from chambers of commerce, private companies and Academic Institutions. These shared experience from each of the EAC partner states on investment promotion in the agribusiness sectorand designed an effective agribusiness and agro-industry investment promotion strategy for each of the five EAC countries.
Private investors are increasingly attracted to the sector, as the world’s demand for high-value agricultural products has been growing steadily in the past twenty years. This trend represents a great opportunity to increase investment in agriculture, which remains underdeveloped due to market imperfections that impede investment flows into technically and economically feasible agribusiness opportunities.
“Public and private partnership and coordination are critical for effective investment promotion in the agribusiness sector”, said Attaher Maiga, FAO Representative in Rwanda.
“FAO introduced practical policy tools and concepts based on our research and experiences from technical cooperation activities. We hope that this workshop was a useful first step for the private and public stakeholders in the EAC countries to collaborate for the development of the agribusiness sector in the region.”
Issues addressed included among others:
- Defining a national goal of an agribusiness investment promotion strategy
- Enhancing an enabling agribusiness environment
- Facilitating agricultural value chain finance and investment mechanisms
- Developing capacity of agro-enterprises and farmer organizations
- Engaging the public and private sector in developing a coordinated agribusiness investment promotion strategy
Knowledge Sharing bridges gaps
The meeting provided practical policy tools and concepts to design a comprehensive agribusiness investment promotion strategy. The knowledge shared was illustrated with field experiences from East Africa and other regions of the world to highlight different types of bottlenecks and opportunities for inclusive agribusiness investment promotion. The participants also gained from the shared experiences.
A delegate making up part of the Rwandan participants, Emmanuel Kamugisha, the Agriculture and Food Security Officer at the Rwanda Ministry of East African Community said, “Our participation in this meeting has increased our knowledge on appropriate methodologies and tools for agro-industry and agribusiness investment promotion in a Rwandan context in relation to the uniqueness of the Agriculture sector. It has also increased understanding of the diagnostic analysis including identifying challenges in the value chain so as to develop investment promotion strategies.”
The working papers were jointly designed by FAO and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Similar meetings have been organized in Bagamoyo, Tanzania and Arusha for public and private sector actors from the EAC countries.
The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat received a Technical Cooperation Programme support in September 2012 from the FAO to develop the East African Agro-industry and agro-enterprise Development Programme (E3ADP). This was in response to the endorsement in Abuja, Nigeria, of the African Agribusiness and Agro-Industry Development Initiative (3ADI) by African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government in March 2010.
The vision of the E3ADP is an agriculture sector in the EAC Partner States, which supplies high-valued and differentiated food, fibre, feed and other agricultural products for local, regional and international markets. The goal is to have a high proportion of the agricultural commodities produced in the EAC transformed into differentiated high-value products in the form preferred by the final consumer.
Major achievements to date include the East African Agro-industry and Agri-enterprise Investment Strategy (E3AIS) which was developed and adopted in the 7th EAC Sectoral Council meeting in September 2014.