Addressing all the dignitaries and the government authorities present at the Asia Africa Agribusiness Forum (AAAF) which was organized by FICCI in New Delhi, OIA forecasted that no overall growth and development is possible in Africa without giving an impetus to agriculture.
At the 'Way forward for Agribusiness and food processing sector' session conducted during the AAAF, Mr. Ambuj Chaturvedi, E.D. Marketing & Sales, OIA shared his insights about the opportunities for Indian companies in Africa.
He stated that, when OIA started its business in Africa, the general perception of the people about agriculture was limited to land, sea, fertilizers and the weather. OIA took a different approach which gave weightage to ecosystem that helped in achieving the current pinnacle. The ecosystem refers to the overall support offered by the Government of a country in decision making, funding and logistics to make food processing successful which was given by Ethiopia during that time.
OIA has been a catalyst for change in Ethiopia since the setup of the 1st sugar plant. Since then more than 7 sugar plants have set up in Ethiopia and has turned Ethiopia a sugar exporting nation from an importing one. With an annual production of 1.5 billion tons of sugar and foreign exchange savings of more than USD. 376 million, Ethiopia has created more than 90,000 jobs and more than 30,000 housing opportunities for its people truly paving its way to greater prosperity in Africa.
One question raised during the session was, though Governments and Indian companies are bullish about Africa, it has not reached the potential it has in agriculture business as compared to the agriculture business prevailing in India and what can be done to reach the same.
Mr. Chaturvedi tried to answer the query by stating that people have to consider agriculture as the next I.T. or banking sector which will generate revenue in the long term. Also agriculture as a business option needs to be supported by other ministries in tandem with the agriculture ministry which can be done by providing education to the other ministries about the lucrativeness of agriculture and its potential.
The session was graced by the presence of key influential guest speakers such as H.E. GennetZewide, the Ambassador of Ethiopia to India who stated that, in the last 20 years agricultural development in Ethiopia has been quite significant and has moved Ethiopia from self-sustenance to export of agricultural products. However, the lack of food processing options is a constraint in developing the agribusiness in Ethiopia further.
The session was also graced by the presence of key influential speakers such as Dr. SaikatDattaMazumdar, Chief Operating Officer, International Corps Research Institute for the Semi – Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Mr. SirajHussain, Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India, Mr. Rama Prasad Banerjee, Chairman, SSP Pvt. Ltd, Mr. ShafiqHakimi, Acting Director, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Afghanistan and H.E. George William Kayonga, Permanent Secretary, Ministry for East African Community Affairs.
Concluding the session, the organizing committee declared that the Government of India is in plans to open 5 food testing laboratories in 5 African countries which will be setup in the near future for overall market oriented development which will benefit the small farmers in Africa.