Agribusiness Congress East Africa programme director Amore Swart said that interest in the conference had “surpassed expectations”, with the theme ‘Driving Innovation in Agricultural Development in East Africa’ attracting both national and international speakers, sponsors and exhibitors to the event.
The exhibition and conference, which will take place in Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam from 28–29 January 2014, will look to promote discussions on agricultural development and innovations in the East Africa region, with a host of agricultural professionals and business leaders, set to speak at the event.
Among the speakers set to appear will be Anne Mbaabu, market access programme director from Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA); Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) director Hugh Scott; AgDevCo founder Keith Palmer; and Dr James Kinyangi, regional programme leader for CGIAR. Tanzanian President Dr Jakaya Kikwete has also been invited to deliver the event’s keynote address.
According to Swart, agriculture in the East African region is now worth more than US$176 billion, with investment in Tanzania alone, set to exceed US$4 billion over the next 20 years. “With the respectable reputation that South African farming experts, input suppliers and solution providers revel in, it is surprising to find that the East African market has not yet been capitalised on,” Swart remarked.
“With average GDP growth of more than five percent, East African countries are ready for the agricultural revolution. Tanzania saw its GDP grow by 7.5 percent during the first quarter of this year,” she added. “Agriculture was said to be the main contributing factor to this immense growth. With the drive from the entire region to move from hand-hoe to tractor technology, this growth can only intensify.”
Swart said that the show would look to help visitors and delegates realise the business opportunities presented by the tens of thousands of commercial farmers in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and surrounding East African countries.
“The problem faced by most entrepreneurs is meeting their international business partners. Links need to be made and relationships need to be developed – and that is where the Agribusiness Congress will make all the difference,” Swart said.
The Agribusiness Congress model was launched in Lusaka, Zambia, in 2012. Spintelligent, the team behind the event, moved the 2014 event to Tanzania after the country’s government approached the events firm to bring the conference to Dar es Salaam.
This year’s show will look to address issues affecting finance and consulting services, conservation products and services, soil cultivation, sowing and plant protection, pre- and post-harvest technologies, irrigation and large equipment manufacturers.
Janet Bitegeko, executive director of local host association the Agricultural Council of Tanzania, said, “The Agribusiness Congress East Africa 2014 is vital to all of us because it provides an opportunity to the agricultural stakeholders in the region to critically examine issues such as accessing affordable finance, infrastructure development, the role of the public and private sectors, fostering multiple stakeholder partnerships, expanding knowledge and sharing of best-practices, as well as access to regional and international agricultural markets.”