KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Bongi Sithole-Moloi
The African Agri Council NPC (AAC) is proud to announce that the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Bongi Sithole-Moloi and the Mayor of the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, Mayor Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda are amongst the first dignitaries to confirm their support and participation for the upcoming Market Access Africa conference set to take place in South Africa.
Agriculture is one of the industries which was, in principle less affected by the pandemic if you consider the GDP growth according to Stats SA’s figures as it showed that the sector’s growth in GDP measured by production for the first nine months of 2020 was 11,3% compared with the same period in 2019. Despite the positive growth trend in agricultural GDP for 2020, it failed to translate into an increase in employment in the sector as 66,000 jobs were lost in South African agriculture only during Q2 according to Stats SA. In practical terms, there are definitely new challenges arising regularly with the rise of COVID-19 concerns and natural disasters such as drought, floods and locust which is impacting food security across Africa.
These challenges are leading to greater implications and according to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the world is not on track to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030. The UN stated that if recent trends continue, the number of people affected by hunger would surpass 840 million by 2030. Many experts including the Kofi Annan Foundation President Alan Doss argue that intra-African food trade is an important driver in strengthening Africa’s capacity to ensure food security, as well as for its economic growth and shared prosperity. He added that, while the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area is a critical step forward, the roll-out of the implementation will be just as important.
The African Agri Council NPC (AAC) in partnership with various African governments and leading agribusinesses have launched Market Access Africa (MAA), a global platform to bring buyers, sellers and other stakeholders together to raise the continent’s food and agricultural productivity, discuss and move forward with the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area to address and promote intra-African food trade in order to eradicate food security challenges in Africa.
MAA will be taking place on 7 – 10 September 2021 in Durban, South Africa is the forum where the public and private sector meet to engage and facilitate collaborations, trade agreements and build sustainable relationships with the end goal of moving the African agriculture industry forward. Ben Leyka, CEO of the African Agri Council stated that “We need to connect, engage and collaborate during these unprecedented times as an industry to foster a resilient value chain globally but especially in Africa, and this is the most important goal of Market Access Africa”.
Further than the confirmed dignitaries mentioned above, the African Agri Council together with the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development and the Mayor of the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality are extending invitations to the Agriculture as well as Trade government officials from most other African countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana etc. and with the positive response so far, the AAC will announce more confirmed officials early March. The high-level agenda will include promoting African food and agriculture, the development of robust supply chains, cross country and continental collaboration, value chain integration, cost competitiveness, farmer productivity and market led value chain development strategies, as well as regional trade flows and policy reforms in order to curb Africa’s annual import bill. Book your seat and/or your exhibition stand now on www.access-africa.com to qualify for the very early bird rates.
Further to the MAA platform, the African Agri Council regularly identifies challenges and opportunities within African agriculture which needs to be addressed continuously. The council has established a community network which consists of African and global industry professionals. The community shares their updates, newsletters, products and services amongst each other and also attend monthly member meetings to discuss a variety of topics as well as brainstorming ideas and collaborating to improve and advance the African value chain.
The recent January member meeting covered the 2021 African agriculture outlook and the impact COVID still has on the industry, statistics were shared and the members, together with the panelists identified the silver linings and opportunities in spite of the current challenges such as the need for to improve the food value chain in Africa and the serious need for collaborations. Upcoming member meetings for March, April and May will be centered around themes such as Unpacking the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA); Raising Capital and Investment in Food and Agriculture; Climate Smart Agriculture. Members can sign up free of charge on the African Agri Council website and non-members can contact Cindy directly by emailing email@example.com.