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Thursday, 08 June 2017

CTA at the European Development Days 2017

CTA, in collaboration with various partners, participated in a number of panels at the European Development Days 2017, which took place from the 7th to 8th of June in Brussels (Tour et Taxis). These panels addressed key subjects concerning the future of agriculture: Trade & Investment, Women entrepreneurs and Youth in Agribusiness. Over the space of two days, CTA brought to the forefront of the development community the most pressing issues affecting the agriculture and rural development in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

During the first session on Boosting Investment for ACP Inclusive Trade and Development, panellists addressed innovative means to harness investment opportunities to empower the ACP as the world’s next emerging economy. The organisers were the ACP-EU TradeCom II Programme, the ACP-EU TBT Programme and CTA. Bibi Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic, Republic of Mauritius, opened the session with a comprehensive overview of the opportunities and challenges faced by the ACP group in the context of trade and development. The European Commission's Roberto Ridolfi, emphasised how the EU can work with the ACP group to enable them to enhance opportunities from trade and sustainable development whilst Pamela Coke-Hamilton from the Caribbeam Export Development Agency was keen to use the example of the Caribbean to emphasise the importance of regional cooperation, intra-ACP collaboration and economic diversification. This was echoed by Masego Marobela, who explored how intra-ACP collaboration has helped to address trade barriers, and called for greater action on this front. She also emphasised the challenges faced due to the heterogeneous mature characteristics of the regions. Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa from the World Bank called on ACP countries and their partners to be more targeted and focused on interventions that will make the right impact.

The second session, on "Youth in agribusiness: Promoting job creation in Africa" focused on investment opportunities and innovations that stimulate Africa’s youth, job creation and sustainable economic growth were explored during this very well attended session. The debate began with some clear recommendations from Christiaan Rebergen (Netherlands' Ministry of Foreign Affairs) based on the experience of the Netherlands, that job creation and agribusiness development cannot happen without the role of the private sector. Dalitso Luke Mbewe of Tapira Industries in Zambia discussed how he transitioned into agribusiness, emphasising the need to identify gaps in the market and add value, while Martin Stimela (Brastrone Enterprises, Botswana) gave the perspective services for the agribusiness sector, which is important for the development of the off-farm rural economy, and how policymakers should support youth innovation and entrepreneurship. Alieu Jallow (Gambia Young Entrepreneurs Association, EDD Young Leader), considered ways that agribusiness could be made more attractive and profitable for youth, particularly in the context of a migration challenges that face Africa and Mara Walz from Germany's National Young Farmer Association (BDL) emphasised the need for education and training to encourage youth to either remain to return to rural areas, based on the experience in Germany.There were a significant number of Questions presented to the panellists from the audience, concerning the role of government and donors, training and education for youth, successful business models and accessing export markets. The session was concluded by the European Commission's Leonard Mizzi, who emphasised the EU's commitment to creating sustainable jobs in Africa and encouraged the audience to read the background note on Youth in Agribusiness. It was organised by the ACP Secretariat, CEMA, African Development Bank, African Agribusiness Incubation Network,  Pan African Farmers Organization and CTA.

At the third session on "Innovative agriculture for next generation farms", CTA Director Michael Hailu discussed key factors to promote and scale up the use of technology - especially ICT - in Africa's agriculture, focusing on lessons derived from successful innovations by youth entrepreneurs and their applications for small-scale producers.

"Investing in Women Entrepreneurs", the fourth session, looked at recommendations to enable women’s economic participation for sustainable growth and rural development. It was organised by the Pan African Farmers Organization, Agricord and CTA. Opening the session was Vanessa Erogbogbo from the International Trade Centre, who argued for increased investment to scale up women's economic participation, as well as policy reforms which encourage more procurement from women's businesses. The European Investment Bank's Heike Rüttgers emphasised the need for more partnerships - especially between the private sector and the public sector - to support women in business and facilitate lending to women. Entrepreneur Lovin Kobusingye of Kati Farms in Uganda discussed the challenges and factors for success in launching and scaling up a women-led agribusiness, and made recommendations for other female entrepreneurs. Marie-Joseph Medzeme Engama from the regional farmer's organisation of Central Africa (PROPAC) spoke about the need for women farmers to be organised, and the opportunities that farmer organisations and cooperatives can present for greater value addition. On the other hand, the PanAfrican Farmer's Organisation's Fatma Ben Rejeb presented some opportunities for collaboration between organisations in Africa and the EU to provide capacity building and to showcase success stories from female entrepreneurs. During the Questions and Answers session, the panel responded to interventions concerning the application of ICTs to support women entrepreneurs, as well as their ability to access markets and the viability of women oriented incubation and finance platforms.

The fifth and final session, "Promoting inclusive trade in Africa", looked at how cross border trade can be boosted through simplified trade regimes and support local businesses to address the informal economy in Africa. It was opened by the European Commission's Stefano Manservisi, who explained the lessons that the EU can share with Africa in terms of supporting inclusive regional integration and trade, emphasising the need to create a conducive policy environment for trade, especially for women traders. TradeMark East Africa's Frank Matsaert elaborated on the gains made in East Africa through the Simplified Trade Regime (STR) and the benefit to informal, small scale traders who are often women. Hermogene Nsangimana (African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO)) noted the need for greater regional harmonisation and cooperation on standards setting and regulation, particularly given the overlapping regional trade blocks in Africa, whereas Janet K. Ngombalu from the Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC) argued that standards play an important role for the private sector by establishing a common framework for trade, and regional trade is increasingly seen as an important instrument to address food security when there are shortfalls. Koen Doens (European Commission) explained that the EU is focused on supporting African countries to improve their trade capacity, in terms of supporting skills development and also enhancing product offering and value addition. The audience addressed Questions to the panellists touching on issues such as the impact of standards for farmers, ensuring adequate capacity for African governments to implement trade agreements such as EPAs, and enhancing security for trade in border zones. CTA, ACP-EU TradeCom II Programme and ACP-EU TBT Programme organised this session.

For information on all five panels, visit: http://bit.ly/2qK2h8C

Review the live coverage on Twitter with @CTAbrussels and #EDD17

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