Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  31 May 2011

AGRICULTURE : Implementing AgriBusiness in Africa – Successfully


Recent Gauteng Business News

Commenting on Africa’s economic problems during an interview on BBC News in May, Mteto Nyati, Managing Director of Microsoft South Africa, said the country should look at where it has comparative advantages: “We have that in agriculture; we should be feeding the rest of the world.”

In recent years, there has been a significant positive change in global investment perceptions towards agriculture in Africa, primarily due to the global race for resources and food. Many African countries have modernised their economies to provide access to foreign investment in agriculture. According to London-based Silk Investment's Patrick Lundi the company is investing in agri-processing businesses in seven Africa countries. "Africa is by far the most exciting destination for the people that we talk to, and among those are pension funds in Europe and the US."

The number of investment projects in the agricultural sector in sub-Saharan Africa is at "unprecedented" levels, Paul Runge, the Managing Director of Africa Project Access, said at an agriculture investment conference last year. "I have never seen a project flow as we have it now," he said. Africa Project Access is a specialist consultancy offering assistance to greenfield and brownfield projects in sub-Saharan Africa. Runge said it is inexplicable that agriculture investment forms such a low component of the average development finance institutional portfolio, at about 7%, given that there is such a high demand for investment.

He said countries should adopt a more targeted approach and agricultural investment should be focused on products and areas where the country has the ability to add value.

AgriBusiness Africa Conference

While this is good news for African countries, implementing AgriBusiness in Africa remains challenging. Financing, logistical bottlenecks and political issues are just some of these. “Doing Successful AgriBusiness in Africa” is the theme of a one-day conference being hosted alongside Africa’s largest food and beverage Expo, Africa’s Big Seven. This conference will take place on the 19 July. AB7 takes place from 17 to 19 July at Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand South Africa. The event is being hosted by agricultural intelligence company Agrifica.

“This year’s annual Agribusiness Africa Conference comes within the context of agricultural development in Africa and, with it, food security, being top priorities in the world economic scene,” explains Marianna du Plessis, spokesperson for Afgrifica. “Africa is the last continent with enormous unexploited food production potential.”

However implementing agri-business in Africa, particularly in the agricultural and agribusiness fields, presents numerous challenges unique to Africa. Managing these challenges to achieve a profitable outcome requires careful forethought and strategising based on in-depth knowledge and understanding. “The focus of this Conference will be on assisting delegates to gain such in-depth understanding of the issues to be addressed in doing business in Africa,” du Plessis adds.

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