Agribusiness Congress East Africa to attract regional agri professionals
“My vision for the agri sector is a national grain sector that supplies the region and is the preferred source of high quality grain. There are opportunities in agriculture with our two seasons (bimodal) and a fast growing population; highest in the world at 3% per annum.” This is according to Mr Chris Kaijuka, chairman of The Grain Council of Uganda (TGCU) and featured speaker at the upcoming Agribusiness Congress East Africa in Namulonge in November.
The TGCU is the official host partner of this leading regional farming event which returns to Uganda from 29-30 November as a fully-fledged conference and outdoor exhibition with its move to the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) in Namulonge. Apart from the high-level conference with high-level expert speakers, Agribusiness Congress East Africa will this year also feature more than 45 exhibitors, free training workshops and agronomy consultations, roundtable discussions as well as live demonstrations and crop trials.
According to Mr Kaijuka, the TGCU is “currently pursuing affordable financing for infrastructure development and working capital for members. We look forward to the launch of the electronic trading on the Uganda National Commodity Exchange where we are shareholders.”
He adds: “for us to truly grasp the opportunity for East Africa, and Uganda in particular, which has evolved into the new frontier for food and grain production and the continent’s food basket, we need to come together and take action to move the industry forward. We urge all industry players with a stake in agriculture to take advantage of this golden opportunity to meet with suppliers, buyers and technocrats and contribute to the development debate.”
Challenges facing East African agriculture
Another leading industry body supporting Agribusiness Congress East Africa is Farm Concern International, an Africa-wide agri-market development agency specialised in value chain analysis, profitable smallholder commercialization and market access. Tomson Okot, Senior Programme Director at Farm Concern International, is part of a panel discussion at the event on “Identifying East Africa’s investment trends & outlooks for 2018.”
With regards to the main challenges facing the agri sector in East Africa, Mr Okot says: “with an enormous potential of fertile soils and favourable climate, East Africa has a comparative advantage to produce several agricultural products, process and export as a food basket of the EAC-COMESA region. However, despite its potential, intra-East African Community trade is about $5.63 billion only (representing only 10% share of intra-EAC trade to the total trade). East African exports of goods and services to the COMESA region and other countries within the East African Community (EAC) is thus still low.”
He continues: “limited market-led incentives, low commercialization and subsistence agriculture in East Africa is a barrier to trade. Access to competitive markets remains one of the major challenges facing smallholder farmers in East Africa. Specifically, smallholder farmers are constrained by low level of commercialization, multiple layers of predatory market players that reduce gross margins and, limited access to market information.”
Other leading agricultural and economic partners of Agribusiness Congress East Africa include: the Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACT), Alliance for Commodity Trade in East and Southern Africa (ACTESA), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Eastern Africa Farmers Federation, Eastern African Grain Council, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), SA Capital Equipment Export Council (SAEEC) and VECO East Africa.
As in previous years, the technology and services industry in the sector has come out in huge support of the event and with the expo this year, they have even more opportunities to showcase their offerings. Leading farming equipment supplier John Deere and Mascor are platinum sponsors at Agribusiness Congress East Africa while Case, Engsol, Tafe and Toyota are gold sponsors.
Agribusiness Congress East Africa is organised by Spintelligent, a well-known trade conference and expo organiser on the continent, with particular expertise and experience in energy, infrastructure development and agricultural events; including the long-running flagship shows such as Agritech Expo Zambia, Farm-Tech Expo Kenya, Future Energy East Africa, Future Energy Uganda, Kenya Mining Forum and African Utility Week in Cape Town.