Agri-Business forum set for South Africa

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African Women In Agriculture (AWIA) in conjunction with Belgian-based EMRC will next month hold a high level Agri-Business Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, where Zimbabwe has been selected as a focus country.

The forum would be held from October 16 to 19, under the theme, “Engaging the Private Sector for Africa’s Food Growth.”

AWIA, an initiative of Graça Machel, is a pan-African organisation found in 15 African countries and headquartered in South Africa. EMRC is a Brussels based non-profit organisation promoting agro-business in Africa.

AWIA Africa managing director Susanna Makombe said the forum presented an opportunity to create business networks, exposure to donors and other international agencies.

“Zimbabwe stands to benefit from the international exposure, especially given our isolated position over the last ten or so years,” said Makombe.

“This is an opportunity for Zimbabwe to showcase what it has to offer in terms of agriculture and agro-business. Our country is known in the region for its agricultural potential and we must aim to promote this position at the forum.

“In addition, Zimbabwe has been chosen as a focus country, which means it will be given more air time and exposure at the conference.”

Makombe said that agriculture is one the major contributors to the gross domestic product and with the forum being held just before the onset of the planting season, the meeting could not have come at a better time.

She said the country would benefit from the information shared at the forum in terms of best practices, markets and other related information sharing.

The EMRC Agri-Business Forum is the largest pan-Africa international platform held on African soil, which brings delegates from north and south to discuss best practices and business opportunities in the Agro-Food sector in Africa.

Country delegations led by ministers of agriculture from around Africa, donor organisations, project developers and international institutions from around the world will take part at the event.

The forum’s co-organisers, United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) are as concerned about bringing about real projects and practical results to the table of development.

The forum will end with a “high level private-public dialogue”, to which the UNDP will convene senior decision makers and opinion leaders as well as other industrialists and heads of states and governments.

“The world wants to hear the good news from Zimbabwe and how the government is coping with the challenges and strives to attract investment into the food and agro-industry sectors.

The Agri-Business Forum is the best opportunity for Zimbabwe’s government and its private sector to showcase existing projects and present investment and partnership opportunities,” organisers added.