How to assist African tropical products in global markets
Africa a continent of abundance tropical products
Africa is a continent that is greatly dominated by agriculture and about 80% of the population is involved in agriculture either for consumption or for commercial purposes, both in the urban and rural areas. Africa has a population of over 1.3 billion in 2020, with a growth rate of 2.5% p.a. This population is expected to increase to 2.5 billion by 2050 according to Statista. As such, Africa has to produce much more not only to feed itself and reduce poverty and hunger but also for trade to create growth, financial inclusion, and independence for producers. For according to the Vice President of the World Bank for Western and Central Africa, Ousmane Diagana African trade has to go beyond its borders in order to “promote economic transformation through exports…” Thus, to be able to feed itself and be competitive at the global level in terms of trade ensuring growth in the continent, Africa needs to get involved in international trade with their best tropical products like mangoes, avocados, tea, pineapples, coffee, and cocoa beans, etc.
Africa has what it takes to feed itself, influence global trade, and increase growth. This is because, among others, Africa is greatly involved in agriculture which is crucial for other sectors as all sectors greatly depend on agriculture for survival. Even though all the SDGs connect to growth in one way or the other SDGs 1- No Poverty, 2 Zero Hunger, 8 Decent work and economic growth, and 13 Climate Action highlight the importance of these core sectors in achieving growth in Africa. And taking into consideration there are more women businesses than men in Africa, the trade will greatly help to achieve SDG 5 concerning gender equality.
According to the world bank, the number of hungry people keeps increasing each year specifically in developing countries among which is sub-Saharan Africa. So why is it that Africa with all the potential like abundant land, manpower, and knowledge is still lagging behind in terms of closing the financial gap, especially with farmers, increasing economic growth, and reducing poverty?
Africa has potentials that are admired in the world like their active huge young population which makes up the majority of the population, abundant land (60 percent of the world’s arable uncultivated land), manpower, and the knowledge of the local dynamic. However, Africa is also struggling with the followings core issues;
First, access to technology and innovation to produce more and add value to its agri-produce which they heavily depend on, and to make it competitive in the world market. Also, is the problem of lack of knowledge and skills like how to trade abroad beyond Africa. What are the parameters like with standards, regulations, and quality involved for the products to make it to the world market?
Next, is the problem of post-harvest technologies to preserve (increase shelf life) and store the harvest before it reaches the buyer and the consumers. It is even estimated by the AUDA that “approximately 1.3 billion metric tonnes of food in Africa are lost immediately after harvesting and does not reach consumers” As such this is a big challenge that needs to be addressed to ensure growth.
Furthermore, how to close the digital divide so that Africans can reach all corners of the world with products and services without actually going there physically. This will enable producers to sell to many at once instead of one to one thereby covering a wilder reach of clients with solutions even in the comfort of their homes.
Again, one of the problems is government policies that are not inclusive, especially for small businesses and institutions which are not functional to help with implementations.
Finally, are the growth funds to help small businesses from the start.
Recommendation: inventing and introducing Africa to the world
Mindset changing: It’s time for producers and small businesses from Africa to have that can-do mentality as well as an entrepreneurial mindset where the goal is not only to produce to consume (Subsistence farming) but produce with the mindset to sell the excess so as to be able to buy the things that they need (Commercial farming/production). To make in today’s world producers have to do things differently
Next is education. To be able to trade in the global market, African producers should be able to have a better understanding through skills development and acquiring the vital knowledge out there to the ability to enter global markets like the EU. For It’s difficult to do what you do not know. For instance, what are the norms necessary to trade abroad like with standards, regulations, and most importantly better quality that fits global trade? Also, which technologies and innovations are needed to ensure trade, value addition and preserve the products from spoilage but instead ensure the right quality for end-user. So, the big question is how will small producers know how to keep up with these demands if they are not taught?
Encouraging local and regional trade in Africa. The creation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is a great way to encourage trade among African countries in the form of regional and inter-continental trade which can later go beyond Africa like with the EU. To make this, effective policies and treaties should be put in place that is inclusive and sustainable, especially for small businesses.
Expanding trade beyond Africa. Many organisations and NGOs have carried out a lot of training on sustainable production in Africa. However, access to new markets with sustainable products is still a struggle, and the game changes for the lives of these producers. Trade is the smart way to grow a business, earn an income, live a dignified life, and grow the continent. For instance, increasing import-export trade relations with the EU, since the EU is still Africa’s number one trading partner.
How does EAL fit the picture?
EuroAfri Link connects African producers to EU markets and assists EU buyers with their African sourcing with a focus on women’s businesses. In addition, EAL also teaches and shows entrepreneurs how to carry out trade in the world market like the EU themselves during a monthly webinar. This is because entrepreneurs most often launch their business and start trading abroad without a complete and sufficient understanding of the market demand & supply beyond their national frameworks like standards, quality, norms, buyers’ preferences, or regulations and for export-import of agri-products. EAL is out to bridge this gap so that African products should be ready and products first class in the world market and for European consumers to have a quality product that meets their expectations. In the end, will be a win-win scenario where everyone is happy.
Join us and be part of the solution in empowering farmers through trade. Let’s Aid trade!
Author: Patience Chindong, CEO of EAL