The EAGC’s African Grain Trade Summit (AGTS)
The premier grain sector-convening event within the African Continent, which shares learnings and dialogue on policy issues affecting the grain industry
First established in 2005, the African Grain Trade Summit has emerged as Africa’s grain industry conference that attracts stakeholders along the grain value chain for discussions about key grain sector policy issues and the developing trends in grain trade in the African continent and beyond.
The first edition of the AGTS was held in Nairobi, Kenya, and since then, the summit is held every two years on a rotational basis amongst the member countries of the Eastern Africa Grain Council. The summit has continuously brought together business influencers, policymakers, diplomatic trade facilitation agencies and other high level stakeholders from across the African continent and beyond – including heads of state and government, ambassadors and high commissioners, ministers, private sector business leaders, researchers and development partners – for discussions on grain trade policy and emerging trends in the sector.
The Summit provides evidence based thought-provoking discussions on the grain sector from national, regional, continental and global viewpoints, creating a road map for coherent and holistic development pathways for the African grain sector.
It is the first African Grain Trade Summit held in October 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya, centered on the future of Regional Food Grain Trade in Eastern & Southern Africa that resolved to establish the (EAGC) Eastern Africa Grain Council, the secretariat that hosts AGTS. These discussions have gained momentum over the years and grown considerably to result in several achievements for the grain sector in Africa.
The second summit, also held in Nairobi Kenya in 2007, called for greater initiatives in financing agriculture and addressing post- harvest challenges, a notable achievement that saw the Warehouse Receipts System being piloted by EAGC in Kenya in 2008. Since then, there has been is continuous effort towards the adoption of the Bill, which is expected to be enacted within the first half of the year 2019.
In 2009, the third summit which was hosted in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania looked at Linking Farmers to national and regional markets resulting in a call for Harmonization of National and Regional Grain Trade Policies. Another notable achievement from the third AGTS was the gazettement of the EAC Staple Food Standards in 2013 which was a process commenced in 2010 soon after this Summit.
H.E. President Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, in 2011 officially opened the fourth AGTS, with a resounding mission to Accelerate Growth in Grain Trade. This move led the Government of Tanzania to pledge to stop export bans of staple foods and the ban was lifted immediately after, in 2012. The Summit further resulted in renewed focus on warehouse receipting and commodity exchanges as a means of promoting structured grain trade.
The 2013 summit which was held in Mombasa witnessed the launch of the EAGC/CTA Structured Grain Trading Systems in Africa – Handbook, the first of its kind in Africa. The summit renewed focus on addressing policy constraints to investment in grain trade.
In Kigali, Rwanda, the sixth African Grain Trade Summit channeled Towards Creating an Enabling Environment for Grain Trade in Africa in which Greater commitment towards improving food quality and food safety regulatory frameworks was pledged. This Summit was the first to host an international Business to Business and trade facilitation meeting for buyers and sellers where US$ 57 million worth of grain was traded, making it the one of the most successful trade facilitation events ever at that moment in time. The sixth summit laid the foundation for pan-African grain trade cooperation within the African Grain network which comprises of the EAGC, West African Grain Network and South African Grain Network.
The most recent, 7th African Grain Trade Summit held in 2017 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania which focused on Rethinking Grain Trade for Food Security and Prosperity in Africa, Contributed to removal of an export ban by Tanzania by December 2017. The summit called upon the private sector to actively participate in cross-border grain trade as a platform to achieve competing objectives of domestic food security and agro-industry development.
The upcoming eighth African Grain Trade Summit , scheduled to be hosted in Mombasa Kenya from 3rd to 5th October 2019 will aim at Transforming Grain Trade Value Chains for more trade and better trade and a Prosperous Africa. Disruption of grain trade has significant implications. The volume and value of grain trade between Africa countries is greatly impeded and instead Africa has become more dependent on food imports with the continent’s food import bill expected to reach US$ 110 billion by 2025. In addition, some estimates indicate that informal trade is more than half of total grain trade as traders circumvent costly bureaucratic process required to engage in formal trade.
This means that increasing the volume of grain trade, connecting more markets together and increasing the diversity of grain products being traded whilst reducing the cost of doing business is important if the grain sector is to achieve its potential.
This transformation requires some significant policy reforms and mindset change in the way the grain sector is perceived by policymakers. The 8th AGTS will therefore facilitate collegial discussions among over 400 high-level grain industry stakeholders to come up with practical measures that will lead to positive transformation of grain trade value chains to deliver more and better grain trade and ultimately set Africa on a path towards sustainable prosperity.
The 8th AGTS will look to find solutions for the missing pieces of the grain trade puzzle and attempt to come up with an action plan to deliver more and better grain trade on the continent.
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