Agribusiness seizes the spotlight at ICES 2019 Brussels

The International CEOs Economic Summit (ICES), set to take place in Brussels on July 9-11, cuts across sectors where disruptions are taking place in key sectors, with both similarities and differences. A session is dedicated to “New products and approaches to boost investments into agribusiness” will be held on the 11th of July from 16:15 to 17:30. It is about creating the necessary conditions for investment into the agribusiness sector, particularly key subsectors that have a strong potential for impact.

The ICES is a tremendous opportunity for participants to better understand agribusiness value chain and its dimensions (economic, ecologic, social, health, skills), trends in disruption, gain support and access to finance, learn about latest business models, and what this means for investors in African countries and understand benefits of cooperation. It is also a great opportunity to network with peers and see the latest technologies and solutions for smarter agribusiness and skills development. The Summit targets CEOs and executives interested in sharpening their vision and strategy and networking with peers and prospects in the sector.

A panel composed of 4 panellists will, with the help of moderator, debate the future of agribusiness in Africa and the importance of innovation and technologies based on cooperation in the agribusiness value chain. The panellists will engage into a conversation, a discussion and a debate, involving active participation of the audience. Panel discussion will be preceded by a brief presentation by each panellist that reviews development in the sector based on own experience, setting out key issues for discussion. At the end of the panel discussion, a summary of discussion will be made outlining key elements of a proposal to operationalize the findings of the session.

An important theme will be increasing access of SMEs in the agribusiness sector to risk-capital, external markets and large companies and the benefits of cooperation strategies. The whole Agri-food supply chain is being challenged to raise productivity while enhancing the environment and increasing sustainability. Our line-up of speakers will provide their perspectives on how best the industry can respond and ride the wave of disruption and innovation. The discussion will also discuss how to crease an enabling environment and ecosystem for an inclusive and sustainable development of the agribusiness value chain.

In many African countries, while agriculture for export, such as cocoa and horticulture, can profit from external favourable situations, food crop production remains dominated by subsistence farming. Agriculture remains a major source of employment and livelihood of many countries and a fundamental sector contributing to their growth performance. It also remains dominated by smallholder farming and unable to operate efficiently and effectively, while it faces unreliable and relatively high cost. The lack of productivity and value addition is major change that the session will address and exploit the significant untapped potential. The medium to long term modernising food crop production will require substantial productivity-enhancing investments, including rural infrastructure, irrigation, marketing, extension, and agricultural research and development (R&D) and stop or prevent ecological long-term damages.

The challenge is compounded by an investment climate that still hinder private investment. Yet, the agro-processing sector is underdeveloped to meet local demand and offers opportunities to create productive jobs, increase exports, and reduce the tremendous post-harvest losses that hurt farmers and traders.  The agribusiness sector not only bridges the gap between agricultural production and industry but it also fits in well with efforts to diversify a country’s exports.

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