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Hub advances USAID’s goal to end hunger through regional trade at AGRF 2018

Published on September 13, 2018

IMG_7776.JPGThe USAID Hub was a key partner in the latest African Green Revolution Forum 2018 (AGRF 2018), which took place in Kigali, Rwanda from September 3 to 8. An estimated 2,000 global delegates consisting of agriculture experts, impact investors and agripreneurs attended the forum to devise new pathways to turn smallholder farms into sustainable agribusinesses. The Hub supported five Tanzanian agribusiness start-ups to participate in a training boot camp during the annual Pitch Agrihack competition, which took place on the sidelines of the AGRF 2018. Read more here.

The Hub also participated in two sessions: 1) Mobilizing Private Investment in African Agriculture, and 2) Policy Symposium on New Opportunities for Regional Food Markets and Food Trade in Africa. The first session provided insights on how the high transaction costs investors face lead to low investment uptake. Speaking at the session, Kanini Mutooni, the Hub’s Investment Director, said, ”We need to devise a subsidized transaction cost model. The more the deals, the more the impact, the more the investment in agriculture. We also need to create open-ended funds for agriculture. Agriculture is not just a way of life; it’s a profitable business.”

Collage_Pic.jpgThe second session was a high-level panel that discussed how harmonized policies can establish new markets for Africa and enhance commodity exchange in the region. The Hub’s Agriculture and Agribusiness Director, Yohannes Assefa, was among the panelists. He explained, “We facilitate the movement of staple foods from surplus to deficit regions. Unless we fully harmonize grain standards and implement the Common Market Protocol, we’ll continue facing challenges in commodity exchange.”

The Hub also hosted a breakfast meeting under the theme "Leveraging Regional Trade for Food Security" with the Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC). Despite the various challenges posed by climate change, the Hub noted that the free flow of staple foods could enable the region to wean itself off chronic emergency food assistance. The Hub supports this vision with interventions that center on addressing the hurdles of non-tariff barriers through policy reforms, facilitating access to finance for trade and supporting the development of an online platform that lnks grain traders with logistics service providers. To date, the Hub has facilitated trade linkages for the sale of 1.4 million metric tons of staple foods valued at USD 473 million. 

"We need to have the capacity to be able to fully implement and domesticate the East Africa Community Sanitary and Phytosanitary Protocol in order to facilitate seamless trade at our borders,” said Dr. John Kedera, the Hub’s Senior Trade Policy Advisor, who was a panelist at the breakfast session.