The African Development Bank has begun a two day seminar on “Enhancing Knowledge on the Challenges and Opportunities of Developing and Implementing Staple Crop Processing Zones in Africa.
The seminar that will see various African countries converge in Tunis this February is seeking to draw lessons and good practices from various African experiences in designing and operating staple crop processing zones (SCPZ).
The Seminar which runs from February 12-14 2018 will also explore how SCPZs can contribute to achieving socio-economic development goals in Africa.
According to a statement from the bank, the seminar will also help in the development of national master plans for the agro-industrial sector. It should facilitate the conclusion of South-South cooperation agreements based on knowledge sharing, export and adaptation of good practices. It should also lead to the establishment of innovative public-private partnerships (PPPs) adapted to each context. Finally, the seminar is expected to stimulate the creation of agribusinesses with a view to generating employment and fostering strong and inclusive growth in Africa.
“Agriculture in Africa provides employment to 61% of the population but only accounts for 25% of its GDP. This gap is mainly due to lack of modernization of the sector, which results in low productivity and reduce the avoidable impoverishment of millions of people. For example, although the continent is home to over 65% of the world’s arable land, it spends nearly US $35 billion annually on food imports. In addition, Sub-Saharan countries suffer from huge post-harvest losses of up to 35-50% of total production for perishable agricultural products such as fruits and vegetables.” The statement reads in part.
The lack of processing of agricultural products is a heavy burden on Africa. This is the case in Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest producer of cocoa (40% of world production), which produces little chocolate. Similarly, Tunisia produces 180,000 tons of olive oil annually, but less than 10% of the production is packaged in the country, with the rest being exported in bulk.
Developing agro-industry, one of the priorities of the African Development Bank’s “Feed Africa” strategy, can provide answers to many development challenges facing the continent, particularly in terms of job creation, nutrition, rural development, market access and competitiveness.
The seminar will bring together about 100 representatives from Agriculture and Industry Ministries, particularly from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania and Togo.