Malawi draw lessons from the Asia- Africa Agribusiness Forum in New Delhi

H.E. Pranab Mukherjee, President of India inaugurating the Asia-Africa Agribusiness Forum at FICCI Auditorium in New Delhi on 4 February 2014

A three- day Asia-Africa Agribusiness Forum was held from 4 - 6 February at Kempinske Ambience Hotel in New Delhi but was officially inaugurated at FICCI Auditorium by H.E. Pranab Mukherjee, President of India. The main objective of the forum was to provide a platform for countries from Asia and Africa to strengthen cooperation and forge new partnerships in the agriculture and food-processing sector.  Mr. Rajni Patel, Managing Director of Select and Save and Patson Produce (Pty) Ltd from Malawi attended the forum. From the Malawi High Commission, Captain Lewis Mbilizi, Deputy High Commissioner and Mr. Alfred Vilili, Counsellor attended the forum. 

Speaking when he inaugurated the forum, the President said "one billion people, representing fourteen per cent of the global population, is still afflicted by hunger. Asia and Africa account for most of them. This cannot continue any further. Food production has to proceed in a business-unusual manner; on a war footing".

The President said a shift in focus towards the development of horticultural crops and food processing industry can provide the impetus necessary for the overall growth of the agricultural sector. Africa has tremendous scope for benefiting from the development of the food processing industry. India can provide training in post harvest management of different crops and provide assistance in developing packaging technology in line with world standards. India has requisite expertise for each level of the value chain and can assist African countries in developing the same. Access to agriculture markets and finance as well as greater public private partnership in agri-business and the food processing sectors in Asia and Africa are essential to unleash their potential.

Captain Lewis Mbilizi, Malawi Deputy High Commissioner in New Delhi, sharing information about business prospects in Malawi with Indian prospective business persons at the Asia-Africa Agro-Business Forum at the Ambience Hotel in New Delhi on 5 February 2014

The President said there is need to introspect why despite availability of agricultural labour and sizeable arable land many Asian and African countries have witnessed spiralling food prices. The challenge is to translate the woes into business opportunities. There is need for both the continents to overcome the challenges through symbiotic associations. Partnerships must aim at developing the agri-business sector into an efficient business enterprise capable of competing in other international markets. He said it is heartening to note that the agenda of the business forum includes forging new business partnerships, sharing best practices and new technologies, and exploring project finance and funding options.

Mr Rajni Patel Managing Director of Select and Save Ltd and Patson Produce (Pty) Ltd, introducing his company to some of the participants at the Asia-Africa Agro-Business Forum at the Ambience Hotel in New Delhi on 4 February 2014

The Malawi High Commission took advantage of the conference to market Malawi as a viable investment destination and to establish contacts with various suppliers of high yielding seeds including sunflower, Irish potato. The Mission also discussed with suppliers of farm machinery with a view to find ways of transferring farm technology to Malawi to propel farm mechanisation and to boost food security.