The 6th African Grain Trade summit organised by the Eastern Africa Grain Council commenced on the 1st of October, 2015 in Kigali, Rwanda.
FoodTrade East and Southern Africa attended the three day summit in its capacity as a key sponsor. This Summit gathered stakeholders across the grain value chain in Africa for discussions on issues and emerging trends in grain trade in Africa.
The 2015 African Grain Trade Summit focused on three central issues including:
- Critical policy, regulatory and procedural barriers to the facilitating environment for trade in staple foods;
- The role of agricultural trade policy in promoting or hindering grain trade in the region;
- The various technology innovations that can to improve grain trade, ranging from storage solutions to tracking movement of food commodities along the value chain.
The Summit was officially opened by the Prime Minister of Rwanda, Honourable Anastase Murekezi, at the Serena Hotel in Kigali. In his speech to the delegates and guests of the summit, the Honourable Prime Minister highlighted the importance of a collective approach, saying that “We have to work as a winning team, and create synergies, harmonised procedures and standards and form partnerships which support the growth of the grain sector in Africa.”
The Prime Minister urged summit members to recognise the importance of collaboration in enabling a more competitive sector that brings satisfaction to farmers, traders, millers through innovative ICT connection across the whole the grain value chain. He promoted the creation of a competitive system, linked to the banking network that offers attractive returns on investment while reducing the cost of doing business in the region.
This summit featured discussions on a number of issues affecting grain trade in Africa and delivered a set of recommendations. These included:
- Greater harmonisation of trade policies between countries/REC is required. The Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC) was tasked to lead the facilitation of this process by leading the engagement of government in this harmonisation. EAGC was also tasked to coordinate in the harmonisation of the grain standards in the entire region.
- Africa should tap into their indigenous knowledge to address toxins control so that these are not used as barriers to trade.
- Governments should design policies that encourage the adoption of appropriate technologies.
- Farmer cooperatives should be encouraged to take advantage of regional trading platforms to ensure that they secure a larger proportion of the market share.
- There is a need to review the entire warehouse receipt system and to address the challenges that are facing the system across the region. It was also suggested this be linked to a regional trade platform.
The Minister of Trade and Industry Rwanda, Francois Kanimba officially closed the summit by highlighting the key takeaways of critical importance and asserting his support for the EAGC in its effort to bring together the Eastern, Western and Southern African grain network to initiate a collaborative dialogue that set the pace for the establishment of Africa Grain Network.
He further added that collaboration will boost African trade not only in grain but other commodities, potentially reducing billions of dollars that African countries use to import food from other parts of the world.