Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ninth AGOA Forum Embraces African Agribusiness

6th August 2010. Washington. Ninth U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, better known as “the AGOA Forum.”

In attendance were cabinet ministers and senior officials from the 38 sub-Saharan African countries that benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity (AGOA) trade preference program, as well as representatives of African regional economic communities, the American and African private sector, and civil society. The ministerial portion of the event was held in Washington, D.C. from August 2-3.

Comesa Secretary General, Sindiso Ngwenya (left), and the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) CEO, Dr Cris Muyunda (right), made earnest appeals to US investors to invest in Africa. During a panel presentation entitled, ‘Food Security: opportunities for Africa' Ngwenya said the African market provided an opportunity for growth in agricultural development and trade.

"We can produce enough for our needs and for the rest of the world as long as challenges facing the farmers are dealt with" he said. Ngwenya said in 20 years, Africa's collective GDP would be US$2.6 trillion, its consumer spending US$1.4 trillion, the number of Africans of working age would be 1.1 billion, with 50% of Africans living in cities by 2030. He further said regional integration through the tripartite COMESA, East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Development Cooperation (SADC) agreement had created a bigger market which should be exploited. The Secretary General said COMESA was addressing the challenges to agricultural development like infrastructure, technology and market related constraints through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP. Ngwenya said Africa has potential to produce enough food for internal needs and international trade.

A separate session focused on the private sector and opportunities for U.S.-African trade in the agribusiness sector, was held in Kansas City, Missouri from August 4-6. After spending two days in Washington, the AGOA Forum — departed from its usual format to move the event closer to business in America’s heartland and promote direct business networking, particularly in agriculture. The US Trade Development Agency (USTDA) hosted, in Kansas city, a business meeting about food security technologies to identify opportunities in the Africa agro-business sector.

During the meeting the main African agents were presented that are trying to increase their productivity by using USA Technologies, equipments and other agriculture elements, such as seed, fertilizers and others.

A feature added this year was a trade fair where about 25 American and African businesses, large and small, displayed their goods, networked and looked for potential partners and investors. Ismail Aderogba, the head of product quality assurance and research at Multi-Trex Integrated Foods in Lagos, Nigeria, displayed his company’s products and looking for ways to export to the U.S. market. Multi-Trex processes cocoa butter, cocoa cake and cocoa beans. His company is exporting to Europe but wants to bring its products to the United States, he said.

Thirty-four African women entrepreneurs also participated in the 2010 U.S.–Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum. Four of these women — entrepreneurs from Uganda, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Botswana — talked to .

Maria Odido, CEO of Bee Natural Products Ltd. in Uganda, said she is currently assessing how her business could benefit under AGOA, the African Growth and Opportunity Act. “It would take me a while to access the U.S. market for several reasons,” she said. “First of all, production levels are not very high, and therefore I cannot freely export to the U.S. I don’t have a problem with quality, but I do have a problem with quantity. What I would like to see is recognition of the value that SMEs play in Africa, just as developed countries have recognized the role of SMEs in their countries and used them to strengthen their economies. That has not become a reality in Africa.” Background: The Bee Natural Products company was set up in 2002 and became the flagship of honey industry in the Uganda. From working with 315 producers when it started out, the number of producers supplying BNP rose to 2,700 in a space of 3 years. Within 4 years, BNP captured 75% of the market and were the 2nd largest selling honey in Kenya. BNP is producing on average of 60 tons of honey annually.] Maria Odido is a fellow of the African Leadership Initiativeand a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network

Zambian's Commerce Minister Felix Mutati cited as an example Ghana’s CEO of Homefoods Processing and Cannery Limited, Felicia Twumwasi (photo left) and Zambia’s Sylvia Banda (photo right), the CEO of Sylva Food Solutions as being among the most dynamic women on the continent.

Background: Homefoods employs 23 people and ships 6-8, 20 ft containers per month, worth an average $140,000. Sylvia Food Solutions is a food company whose products include Solar dryers and Solar Dried foods.

The US Congress passed the African Growth and Opportunity Act legislation in 2000. President Clinton subsequently signed the AGOA bill into law on May 18, 2000. Since then, three successive administrations, including the Obama Administration, have actively implemented AGOA, working closely with African partners and other stakeholders to help them make the most of the program.

AGOA institutionalized an annual, high-level dialogue between officials of the United States and AGOA beneficiary countries: the AGOA Forum. This year’s AGOA Forum is the ninth. In 2009, the AGOA Forum was held in Nairobi, Kenya. The AGOA Forum brings together Cabinet-level officials from the United States and AGOA beneficiary countries, along with representatives of the African and American private sector and non-governmental organizations, to discuss issues related to U.S.-sub-Saharan African trade and economic cooperation.

U.S. imports from sub-Saharan Africa increased by 78 percent to $26.6 billion in the first five months of 2010. Imports under AGOA increased 74 percent to $18.8 billion during this period. AGOA non-oil products included vehicles and parts, apparel, jewelry, fruits and vegetables, wines, nuts, spices, baskets, cocoa powder, cocoa paste and seafood.

AGOA Fosters Growth for African Farmers, Fine Dining in U.S.
In addition to increased commercial exchanges between the United States and various African nations, AGOA has also allowed American consumers to discover an array of exotic, healthy and high-end agricultural products.

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