The first African Agribusiness Conference themed “Catalyzing the sustainable transformation of Africa’s agriculture through Agribusiness Incubation: towards job and wealth creation, food security and poverty reduction” held in Kenya between the 28th -30th September, 2015. This conference is indeed distinctive because of the role Agribusiness can perform in the economic development of Africa.
“It is in the agri-business sector that the battle for long-term economic development will be won or lost”–Gunner Myrdal, Nobel Laureate in Economics.
The FARA-UniBRAIN is a unique initiative that is changing lives of thousands of people on the continent because Agribusiness incubation has emerged as a critical tool that can be used to create competitive agri-businesses in Africa and to accelerate the development of the continent’s agricultural sector.
Despite enormous agri-business opportunities in Africa, African agribusinesses face an array of constraints however, the African Union have high level delegations at different international fora advocating for the private sector to support agribusiness incubation in different country commodity priority value chains across Africa.
The African Heads of State Summit in Malabo, Guinea in 2014 adopted a declaration on “Accelerated African Agricultural Growth and Transformation”. It called for African countries to increase public investment in five selected key commodity value chains per country through agri-business development and increase budget support to agriculture investments. Hence, Agri-Business Incubation platform and African Agri-Business Incubator Network will be instrumental for furthering the African Agriculture by transformed, vibrant and integrated African economies that are free from poverty, hunger, and conflict through Agri-Business development.
In Africa, agribusiness, more than any other economic sector, has the potential to reduce poverty and drive economic growth. The agricultural sector is a major source of food supply, income and livelihood for over 60 per cent of the rural population in sub-Saharan Africa, and is an important contributor to foreign exchange earnings. It remains the primary source of subsistence, employment and income for over 64 per cent of the continent’s population. Agriculture is a significant contributor to National GDP in African countries, even in those whose economies are dominated by mining and manufacturing. On the average, agriculture contributes 34 per cent to national GDP, and accounts for about 33 per cent of the reported economic growth in African countries (UNDP 2012).
Agribusiness incubation has emerged as a critical tool that can be used to create competitive agribusinesses in Africa and to accelerate the development of the continent’s agricultural sector. Consequently, high level African Union delegations, at different international fora, have advocated for the private sector to support agribusiness incubation in different country commodity priority value chains across Africa. A number of agribusiness incubators have been established in the continent and there are several initiatives for strengthening agribusiness education.
In addition, Agribusiness incubation has proven to be a very successful mechanism for launching new enterprises by creating an environment where start-ups can be nurtured and allowed to flourish. Experience from various agribusiness incubators, especially in Asia and Africa, indicates that the success rate of incubator-launched businesses is above 85 per cent (Ibid 2012). According to Ms. Louise de Klerk, CEO of Timbali Technology Incubator, South Africa, “A business incubator greatly improves the chances of survival of start-up businesses during the first three years, when they are most vulnerable”.
With great speakers like Honorable Mr. Adan Muhammad, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Enterprise Development, Kenya; Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT; Dr Charity Kruger, Chairperson, FARA Board; Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director, FARA; and Mark Holderness, Executive Secretary, GFAR, the conference was able to encapsulate the entire meaning of agribusiness and its importance to Africa’s economy.
(UniBRAIN) is an initiative for advancing agribusiness incubation and improved agribusiness education in Africa. It is funded by the Government of Denmark. The Initiative is led by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), assisted by six partner institutions: African Network for Agriculture, Agro Forestry and Natural Resources Education (ANAFE), Pan African Agri-Business Consortium (PanACC), Agri-Business Incubation Programme International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ABI ICRISAT), ASARECA, CCARDESA and CORAF/WECARD. In less than five years of implementation, the FARA-UniBRAIN initiative had achieved, to mention just a few: – More than 10,000 jobs created in five African countries – 23,500 households supported with livelihoods – 884 Students taken through internship and industrial attachment – 200 Enterprises facilitated with local and international markets – 140 Start-up incubatees supported – 72 Technologies commercialized. Among one of the FARA-UniBRAIN success is the CURAD and Afri-banana launch in Uganda as well as the Agbit horticulture crops and fruit value chains in Zambia.