Unlocking Africa’s Agribusiness Potential: Key Agriculture Actors Convene at the 7th Africa Agri Expo 2024 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The 7th Africa Agri Expo 2024, Kenya, provided a unique account of scenes and well-constituted events connecting Africa's agribusiness with the rest of the world! Under the patronage of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, this year’s theme, “Your Gateway to Agribusiness in Africa,” earmarked incredible opportunities to foster investments and strategic partnerships that will make agricultural adventure profitable.

It was worth noting that Africa's agriculture is one of the most aggressive industries in the world, with innovations and developments in the pipeline. The agricultural industry in Africa is witnessing unprecedented development, with the region having over 50% of the world's fertile and untapped land which calls for unpacking ways to utilize such valuable resources.

The event was distinguishedly inaugurated by the Senior Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Badu Katelo and Charlene Ruto, the First Daughter of Kenya - Youth, Farmer & Climate Change champion—who later gave their key note addresses.

For the keynote address, CS, Mithika Linturi, Kenya Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, was represented by Senior Deputy Secretary, Badu Katelo, which underscored both the milestones and challenges the region and country has face. Through the governing fertilizer program, Kenya registered and increase in maize production of 61 million bags in 2023 as compared to 31 million bags in the previous 5 seasons.

The government also aims to achieve sustainable food security by leveraging technology to augment food production capacity by providing fertilizers, feeds, agrovet supplies, improved seeds/seedlings, breeding stock, and expanding cultivated and irrigated acreage. These actions will enable better scores in the BETA agricultural priorities that aim to achieve food security, reduce imports, and increase exports. All these converge at the peak of increased farmer income and job creation.

Country director AGRA John Macharia outlined challenges facing the agriculture sector, especially crop production, such as army warm infestations, maize lethal necrosis and increase in temperatures averaging 2 to 3 degrees Celsius. These stresses are unfriendly to the environment, which is already producing less.

“In the recent past, agriculture has faced increased stress due to climate change related threats. In East Africa, we have seen a severe locust infestation, and we have seen prolonged drought in some countries.” he said.

Agriculture contributes 33% directly to the GDP of Kenya and 26% indirectly to other sectors. Therefore, there is need for agriculture stakeholders to build climate resilience to climate change issues, scale up agricultural budgets by governments, ensure our food system is fit for purpose, ensure farmers have access to drought tolerant technologies, and encourage the private sector to innovate products that interest farmers to address issues of climate change.

He also called for the need to have women's front-foot contributions in agriculture get the necessary recognition and support.

“It would be good if there was a session on women in agriculture, 60 to 70% of agriculture is provided by women, and we need to create an environment for them to profit from this sector.” 

Charlene Ruto, the First Daughter of Kenya, gives her keynote address. Photo by 7th Africa Agri Expo 2024.

Also, we heard from Charlene Ruto, the First Daughter of Kenya - Youth, Farmer & Climate Change Champion. She gave invaluable insights of actively working with the youth and women in mitigating climate change and enhancing food security.

The youth aren't simply the leaders of tomorrow; they are leaders in the present moment. By actively involving them in discussions and decision-making processes pertaining to food security, we empower them to shape policies and strategies.

To confront the formidable challenges, we have to put in place robust capacity-building initiatives. This encompasses access to education, vocational training, and mentorship opportunities. Equipped with the necessary tools, they can address pressing issues such as climate change, land degradation, and resource scarcity.

The reality is the Youth are at the median age of 22 years as consumers/producers and therefore the next in line we will be shouldering on for food production. The Need to have appropriates tools, technology, knowledge, and tapping their perspective cannot be stressed further.

Charlene further highlighted that citing that 70% of our food is produced by women in forums and research was a bit unfair if they are still excluded from high-level conferences to share their stories; successes, challenges and possible solutions.

Women in agriculture need to be actively involved in such forum and development processes to spearhead the charge towards resilient and equitable food systems by investing in, fostering entrepreneurship and economic viability.

Key lessons

  1. Engaging youth isn’t about solving immediate issues; it's about cultivating a sustainable future.
  2. The next millionaire is a farmer, it can only be done if we believe, and commit to it.
  3. Youths need to make use of opportunities when they are presented to them, especially by the government and civil society, by working together to produce in volume and have a bargain in the market.
  4. We need to attract youths to agriculture by enlightening them on its immediate and long-term economic footprint and viability. This includes value-added ventures and offering services such as drone technology.
  5. The use of AI and mechanization has great transformation potential to make food system activities at different nodes seamless by enabling the internet of things (IoT) across supply chains.
  6. There is open opportunities for farmers to diversify their value chains, such as edible oil. Reports indicate that Kenya imports over 90% of oil, but access to information on such value chains can be a turn around.
  7. More awareness is key to influencing the use of technology. Consumers cannot request a product if they don’t know it exists.

The event provides an excellent networking platform for agriculture companies, machinery and equipment companies, Poultry/Livestock companies, agro-chemical companies, agri-input companies, poultry and livestock companies, and other agriculture solution companies to build valuable connections and explore numerous business opportunities.

For more information, contact info@fspnafrica.org