On the 18th of September 2017, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, the Executive Director of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) met with the top management representatives of Dangote Group in Lagos, Nigeria. The meeting aimed to discuss prospects of partnership with the Group’s agribusiness and corporate social responsibility arms.
Dr. Akinbamijo in the company of Dr. Aggrey Agumya, the Director for Corporate Partnerships and Communications and Dr. Abdulrazak Ibrahim, Post-Doctoral Fellow Research and Innovation of FARA were welcomed by Mr. Aliyu Suleiman, Head of Strategy; Mr. Robert Coleman, Director- Rice Project and Mr. Ayodeji Aina of the Strategy Unit, Dangote Group.
Dr. Akinbamijo informed his hosts that agricultural research and innovation institutions in Africa increasingly recognize the role of private sector players in innovation and the adoption of research outputs. He observed that most of the private sector players partnering with research institutions are small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
“The large corporations have not been sufficiently engaged; yet, they are important drivers of SME activities and demand for innovations” -‘Yemi Akinbamijo.
He pointed out that correcting this anomaly was the motivation behind his request to meet with the Dangote Group.
The two parties discussed the potential value-addition of a FARA-Dangote Group partnership to either party. The partnership would potentially increase the Dangote Group’s access to appropriate technologies and innovations sourced from within and outside Africa; proven institutional innovations, notably innovation platforms, for organizing farmers and other actors to increase their productivity; and models for youth empowerment. The partnership will enable FARA fulfil its mandate of strengthening the capacity for agricultural innovation by improving the scope and quality of the private sector’s engagement in innovation.
FARA seized the opportunity to invite the Dangote Group to contribute to African agricultural research and innovation by recognizing individuals and institutions that have made outstanding contributions. Specifically, Dangote-supported prize for excellence in agricultural research and innovation was proposed.
In turn, the Dangote Group invited FARA to visit some of the sites where the Dangote Group is initiating major agribusiness operations. The two parties were satisfied with their first contact and agreed to follow up the issues the meeting had uncovered.