The message sent from Ebrahim Rasool, South African Ambassador to the United States, to the Food and Agricultural Management and CCA Agribusiness & Food World Forum Conference at the Cape Town International Convention Centre was a message of hope. “Africa’s time has certainly come. Our Continent has long been the recipient of Food Aid from the rest of the world, and it now has the real potential to reverse this trend and feed the world.”
Speaking at the conference Steven Hayes, President of (USA) Corporate Council on Africa, explained, “The time to transform Africa’s agriculture is now as we cannot wait. Without Africa the people of the world will not be able to survive in the future and I have no doubt that Africa has the ability and will provide global food supplies.”
Hayes added that relationships between the USA and African countries were very important and admitted that the time had come that Africa was becoming more important to the USA than the USA was to Africa. The economy of Africa is projected to grow from $313 million to $1 Trillion in the foreseeable future, and the USA has taken note of this.
Hayes also pointed out that the African Union had declared 2014 the year of agribusiness and food security. The Corporate Council on Africa is a US non-profit, membership-based organisation that promotes business and investment between the USA and the nations of Africa and is the premier American organization devoted to U.S.-Africa business relations. The CCA is the only US organization that has MOU with the African Union.
He emphasised that for large-scale agricultural development to be successful the lack of capacity within African countries will need to be addressed urgently. “Private sector engagement and funding will be crucial for this to succeed and into the future academic leadership and favourable government policies will have to lead the way. Academics and government will have to engage for this vital need. The CCA believes that the rewards from development need to be inclusive. It is time to stop talking about this and act as the time for this to commence is now!”
“People feed the world and you are part of the solution,” was the main message of the address by Thad Simons, President of board of IFAMA. He explained that IFAMA was about people and about providing a forum for people across the board to enable agriculture and agribusinesses to feed the world’s population. Simons also thanked the South African organising committee and the sponsors of the conference for making the conference possible.
“After 25 years of existence this conference marks the first time that the annual international IFAMA conference is being held in Africa,” explained Carole Brookins, Managing Director of Public Capital Advisors and moderator for the session. “This is a milestone and an indication of where the future of food production lies. We will need talent to make the African agricultural sector succeed. Across the globe there are 74,000 births daily and 34 million births annually so agriculture is a very sexy high-end business to be in with 7 billion people to feed!”