4 responses to “Can UNIDO’s agribusiness dream build peace in Africa?”

  1. Ekpein Appah

    This is one book that must be read/studied by all African leaders who are serious about liberating their citizens from the pains and pangs of poverty. The book recommends just little funds and more attention to the philosophy/application of the VALUE CHAIN concern of production. Nothing more, nothing less!

  2. konto

    As usual the answer is processing – that is, transforming fresh food into food that is preserved in packaging or by adding man-made preservatives – in other words, plastic wrapping and E numbers. Bad for the environment and bad for the health. And this is the UN’s great answer to the crisis of African agriculture!

    How about shifting the emphasis from international trade and the need to ship food products over huge distances with enormous carbon footprints, to developing local markets for locally-produced food that can be transported and consumed fresh? This implies a focus on improving livelihoods and incomes in developing countries and obliging consumers in developed countries to eat locally produced rather than ‘exotic’ food…

  3. Patrick Kormawa

    In response to Konto’s comment:

    Re: your suggestion for a shift from international trade to domestic trade in agribusiness. Indeed the book, ‘Agribusiness for Africa’s Prosperity’, advocated for countries to focus on first satisfying domestic demand, then the international market. However, doing this is dependent on the value chain. In the case of food products, it makes sense for countries to focus on satisfying local demand, but for value added products. Where the domestic market is small, the focus should be on external markets. In both cases, the products must comply with international quality standards, and be competitive with imported products. Food preservation, packaging and use of man-made preservatives are all part of value addition.

    It is true that transporting agricultural products over long distances has an economic cost; it can also be a carbon-intensive activity, if air-freighted. Despite these costs, there are economic benefits, depending on the value of the product. Food traders are aware of the economic cost limitations that dictate what can be viably air-freighted, and that is why they tend to only air-freight perishable products such as vegetables and horticulture products, mostly air-freighted from Africa to European markets. Looking at the volumes transported and looking at the economic benefits, the contribution to greenhouse gases is less than economic benefits generated for the exporting countries.

    Focusing investments on agribusiness will clearly improve livelihoods and incomes in developing countries. However, your suggestion about “obliging consumers in developed countries to eat locally produced rather than ‘exotic’ food…” is not feasible. Consumers decide what to purchase and eat if they are provided with choices, and thus it is not feasible to ‘oblige’.

    - Patrick Kormawa, UNIDO representative in Nigeria, and co-author of Agribusiness for Africa’s Prosperity.

  4. Konto

    What a strange comment from Patrick Kormawa. I thought UNIDO was supposed to be committed to sustainable industrial development, to green growth, to green industry, yet here the organization’s representative blithely suggests that the use of unhealthy preservatives is fine if it adds value and that greenhouse gas emissions are a price that has to be paid in the pursuit of “economic benefits”.

    So, for UNIDO is it a case of ‘We have got to have economic growth, even if it kills us!’?