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African Connections MD Addresses International Agribusiness Forum In Cape Town, South Africa


Cape Town, South Africa, Tuesday June 16, 2009: The Managing Director of African Connections Ghana Limited (AC), Dr. Ayesha Hakeem, joined over fifty (50) key political and private sector industry leaders; development and lending agencies from around the world, to address the 2009 edition of the AgriBusiness Forum held in Cape Town, South Africa which was organized by EMRC International based in Belgium.

Dr. Ayesha Hakeem was the only speaker selected from Ghana to speak at this important agribusiness forum. Dr. Hakeem’s presentation was entitled "Empowering the Private Sector to Boost Productivity and Growth in Africa”. She presented on the workshop entitled "Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) –Success Cases”.

The four-day forum brought together more than 400 delegates from 42 countries of which 27 were from Africa. They included representatives from USAID, the World Bank, UN, IFC, Rabobank, the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA);; researchers, SMEs and among others. It was also attended by Agricultural Ministers from South Africa, Zambia, Uganda and Chad.

Dr. Hakeem’s selection as a key speaker on Public Private Partnerships(PPPs)at the forum was an indication of the wealth of experience she brings to bear on the subject through the commitment of AC to use PPP to promote sustainable rural economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Her presentation focused on methodologies to empower small scale farmers to move from subsistence farming to commercial farming.

She said designing and implementing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)projects for large corporations who want to invest their CSR activities in agriculture was the approach adopted by AC to promote PPP as a vehicle to drive rural economic development.

According to her, AC provides training and support services to help develop smallholder farmers’ ability to meet the demands of and engage with export markets.

She highlighted the Ahafo Agribusiness Growth Initiative (AAGI) which involved 5,000 farmers as an example of a successful PPP in Ghana that was designed and implemented in Ghana by AC.

"AAGI was an agricultural development programme designed and implemented by AC and in partnership with Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL). It encouraged and contributed to sustainable economic development by helping small holder farmers to increase productivity and boost incomes. The initiative also served as a catalyst for local economic growth in the operational communities of NGGL”, she said.

"As part of the PPP strategy, AC sought the support of the Government of Ghana through the Export Development Fund (EDIF), which provided grants in excess of $ 170,000 for the Chili Pepper and Soybean Producers Associations under AAGI”, she added.

Throwing more light on the challenges of AAGI project during question time, Dr. Hakeem said although the uptake was initially slow, just like any other project, "when the farmers saw their forward-thinking neighbours making more money, they started joining in”.

Dr. Hakeem believed that such a PPP project which had enable farmers to put more money in their pockets has had other social consequences such as stemming rural to urban migration of the youth; participants are improving their houses and more children have been enrolled in school.


"Farmers are beginning to improve their houses and send their children to school and because farmers still used roughly half their land to produce traditional crops, food supply and food security has not been adversely affected”, she said.

ABOUT AGRIBUSINESS FORUM 2009

AgriBusiness Forum 2009 was jointly organized by EMRC International and the Agricultural Business Chamber (ABC) of South Africa. Under the high patronage of the South African Department of Agriculture, the AgriBusiness Forum 2009 was held in Cape Town, South Africa on 14-17 June 2009.

It was a targeted business forum that united key players with a stake in African agriculture to discuss how the continent could unlock its potential and boost productivity and growth. Over 430 professionals from Africa, Europe, America and Asia attend the forum. The delegates comprised of industry leaders, cooperatives, SMEs, Financiers, Government Officials, NGOs, Researchers, International Organizations’, Multinationals and Donors attended the forum.

Speakersfor the forum included Amos Namanga Ngongi, President - Alliance for a Green Rev. in Africa (AGRA); Akinwumi Adesina - Vice President, Policy and Partnerships AGRA; John Purchase, Chief Executive Officer - Agricultural Business Chamber (ABC) – South Africa, Pierre Mathijsen, former Director General - European Commission and Arthur Levi, Former Head - International Finance Corporation (IFC) among over other forty (40) speakers.

AFRICAN CONNECTIONS WORK NOTED BY INTER PRESS SERVICE (IPS) AFRICA

Cape Town, South Africa, Tuesday June 16, 2009: The continuous commitment of African Connections Ghana Limited (AC)to mobilize and upgrade the knowledge of small holder farmers to improve their productivity and marketability levels in Ghana has been acknowledged by Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa, the regional News Agency of IPS International News Agency.

In an article written under the topic: "Questioning Old Traditions”, the writer Steve Kretzmann, outlined how (ACGL) had utilized Public Private Partnerships (PPP) under its Ahafo Agribusiness Growth Initiative (AAGI) to promote and sustain local economic development through agriculture in the Asutifi District of the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana.

It talks about how access to information for small holder farmers on best farming practices, finance, inputs and available local and international markets can turn the fortunes of small holder farmers around and push agriculture in African into a highly commercial one rather than it being a on a subsistence level.


The publication comes after the Managing Director of AC,Dr. Ayesha Hakeem addressed a workshop under the theme: ""Public Private Partnerships –Success Cases” at the International AgricBusiness Forum held in Cape Town, South Africa.

Please click on this link http://ipsnews.net/africa/nota.asp?idnews=47254 to read the full article.

IPS AFRICA PROFILE

IPS Africa is a leading and credible source of information about Africa. IPS Africa provides media in Africa and internationally with a constant flow of news features, analyses, commentary and opinion on the major economic, social and development challenges of the continent.

The organization is registered as a not–for profit Section 21 Company in South Africa and, together with the other IPS regional entities and the IPS Columnist Service, is part of the IPS international News Agency, a non–profit consortium registered in Rome, Italy.

IPS Africa’s uniqueness lies in its ability to capture voices from the grassroots and provide civil society with a communication platform. IPS Africa’s journalistic output is primarily available in English and French, with translations in Swahili and Portuguese.

IPS Africa reaches more than 70 newspapers and about 100 radio stations directly or in partnership with other content providers in Africa. International content providers –– Allafrica.com, ISI Emerging markets, Africa News Dimensions, Business in Africa and others –– distribute IPS news.

Getting groups of small holder farmers who each cultivate anything from one to five hectares of land to co-operate together in the growing of commodity crops, rather than amalgamating large tracts of land under single ownership, is a model which seems be working in the African context. Read more