AFRICA – The Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) has launched the 9th edition of the African Grain Trade Summit, a bi-yearly conference held to shape the strategic direction for the development of grain trade and the grain sector in Africa.
The 3-day summit, hosted by EAGC in partnership with the government of Kenya and grain value chain stakeholders kicked off on October 7 and is set to culminate on October 9, 2021, in Mombasa, Kenya.
The summit is anticipated to physically and virtually convene over 300 participants among them the President of the host country – the Republic of Kenya, Agricultural Ministers as well as other high-level policy decision makers, agricultural researchers, experts and grain value chain stakeholders both in the public and private sector across the globe.
Running by the theme “The Future of Grain Trade in Africa: Revitalizing Resilience in Grain Value Chains” the summit will further seek to tap into innovations and regulatory models that improve compliance with food safety measures as food commodities move along the value chains while building resilience along the value chains.
The EAGC Executive Director, Gerald Masila, said the conference is coming at a critical period when supply food value chains are most fragile. He added that Africa is becoming increasingly important in global grain trade as evidenced by cross border trade volumes of over 568,000 Metric Ton (MT) of maize, 486,000 MT of beans and 259,000 MT of rice traded across East African Community borders since the second quarter of 2020.
However, he noted that the pressure to feed the fast-growing and rapidly urbanizing populations has resulted to a food production and productivity growth lag, widening Africa’s import gap which is projected to reach Ksh 9 trillion (US$90 billion) by 2030 from Ksh 4.3 trillion (US$ 43 billion) estimated in 2019.
“Africa has in the recent past, owing to its untapped agricultural potential, witnessed increased interest from more advanced economies looking to invest in agricultural production to feed their industries and populations,” Masila said.
It is these trends, the EAGC Director said, that present both the opportunities and challenges for Africa, and a need for strategic dialogue to equip the sector to navigate these opportunities and challenges accordingly.
“We are hosting the summit at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is still prevalent with the global economy striving to adjust to a new normal. The 9th edition of the summit will focus on recovery of the grain sector towards its resilience against future disruptions,” Masila said
Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), represented by Dr. Apollos Nwafor, the Vice-President in charge of Policy and State Capability said there is a persistent challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic which has had an impact on food security, at the risk of over 250,000 million people going hungry in the African Continent.
He noted that the summit which AGRA and EAGC has partnered in is anticipated to create opportunities for governments through trade policies that provide an enabling environment for trade and investment. As reported by Kenya News Agency, the summit is also expected to provide a friendly environment forum for establishment of the private sector in the agricultural industry.
“I want to thank EAGC for partnering with AGRA in the ninth AGTS towards improving policy predictability for an enabling environment for trade to thrive,” said Nwafor.
Joseph Kimote, the Managing Director of the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), said the summit is timely to explore stronger enforcement of policies which are much needed while at the same time strike a balance between regulation and supporting cross border trade.
Kimote, who also represents EAGC Members in Kenya in the Board of Directors noted that the recent enforcement measures, such as Kenya’s temporary ban on maize imports from Tanzania and Uganda due to excessive aflatoxin levels provide cause to rethink regulatory approaches to fostering compliance with food standards.
Based on the disruptions of the food supply chain during the pandemic, according to EAGC, the summit will dive into the overall impact of the pandemic, review the adjustments that have been necessitated to adapt to the Covid-19 crisis and explore the emerging opportunities whilst, looking into appropriate pandemic proof measures that transit into more resilient supply food systems that withstand future shocks.