Kinshasa RD Congo
The annual AgriBusiness Forum, organised by EMRC International, opened today in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic of Congo, in the presence of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, Mr Isidore Kabwe Mwebhu Longo.
As he welcomed over 400 delegates from all over the continent and beyond, the minister emphasized the strategic importance of agriculture for the African continent in general, and for the DR Congo in particular. “The DR Congo is first and foremost a country with an agricultural destiny. In fact, if the agricultural potential of the DR Congo was fully developed, this country could potentially feed up to 2 billion people on the planet”. He went on to mention the DRC’s recent economic successes: “We enjoyed GDP growth rates of 9% last year, which makes us one of the world’s fastest growing economies. We have also made significant progress in creating a more favourable environment for business: It now takes an average of 3 days to register a business. These are positive signals to entrepreneurs and international investors”, he added.
Mrs Idit Miller, Vice-President and Managing Director of EMRC International, said that holding the Forum for the first time in Kinshasa was a major sign of growing confidence in the prospects of agricultural development in the region. “Over the past twenty years, EMRC has worked incessantly to put agriculture and agribusiness at the forefront of the continental agenda. It brings us intense satisfaction that these days, nobody questions the strategic importance of a sector that occupies more than half of the people living on this continent – in fact, agriculture is the most successful engine for inclusive growth in Africa. Indeed, the impact of growth in this sector, measured in terms of increased incomes and employment, is four times bigger than growth in any other sector”, she explained.
Prof. Monty Jones, Special advisor to the President of Sierra Leone, and President of EMRC International, thanked the government and the people of the DRC for its hospitality and commitment to the development of agriculture, while also stressing that a lot of work remains to be done: “Millions of Africans today still go to sleep on empty stomachs. It is an appalling thought, and we need to accelerate the development of the agricultural sector across the continent”.
The theme of this year is Creating a vision for Africa’s Agricultural Transformation by fostering inclusive growth. The Forum will be covering several key elements of transformation: The modernisation of the agricultural sector, the creation of a sustainable and inclusive growth environment, and the promotion of responsible finance.
The Forum will also serve as a platform for business, government officials, donors, farmers and researchers to build partnerships for the sustainable and inclusive growth of the agro-food sector in Africa. Plenary sessions are completed in the afternoons with technical workshops on the modernisation of infrastructure, the integration of trade and access to local, regional and international markets, scientific research and innovation, and the creation of inclusive business models.
In addition, hundreds of business-to-business meetings are taking place during the event, many of which will translate into investment and the development of the agricultural sector on the continent. By late afternoon yesterday, 900 business-to-business meetings had already taken place.
Yesterday’s proceedings were concluded by an elegant Gala Dinner offered by the Trust Merchant Bank. The dinner staged the EMRC-Rabobank Project Incubator Award, aimed at supporting innovative projects in African agriculture. Considering the exceptional caliber of this year’s finalists, the award jury decided to allocate two prizes: A cheque of US $ 10,000 was handed over to Mrs. Ruth Gacheri Kinoti, of Shalem Investments in Kenya, and a runner-up prize of US $ 5,000 was awarded to Mrs Innocente Voziyo, from the Mama Soleil Palm oil cooperative in the DR Congo.
The EMRC Agribusiness Forum, is held this year under the auspices of the Presidency of the DRC and in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the DR Congo’s Fund for the Promotion of Industry (FPI). The Forum has become a permanent feature of annual meetings on the African continent. It is a major event, bringing together hundreds of delegates from Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas: International experts, investors and donors, governments, multinationals, businesses and local food producers.
The event is supported by the Rabobank Foundation, LR Group, AGCO, Cargill, Balton CP, Élan RDC, Trust Merchant Bank, African Milling, SNV, Standard Bank, GAFSP, the Belgian Technical Cooperation, The Royal Dutch Embassy in the DR Congo, the European Investment Bank, the International Finance Corporation and Ethiopian Airlines.
EMRC’s vision is that the private sector is key to the development of the African continent in order to ensure sustainable and long term growth.