The Forum

The theme for 2006 Africa Diaspora Investment Forum is "Harnessing the Role of the Diaspora: Agriculture an investment or skills option for the Diaspora.” This year's forum aims to emphasize recent developments which indicate that Africa is poised to win the battle for economic advancement, by looking specifically at the Agriculture Industry from a multi-disciplinary perspective.

Why Agriculture?

Agriculture is the most important private sector activity in many developing countries, accounting for almost 70-80% of employment in the region and almost 17% of GDP, is regarded by the wider community as the backbone of most African economies, for instance the UK is the largest market for Botswana's beef exports, which gain duty-free preferential access under quota to the EU.

However, Africa's agricultural potential has remained largely untapped due to under investment by both private and public sector, for instance only 4% of arable land in sub-Sahara Africa is irrigated due to lack funding in agriculture - supporting infrastructure. Many African farmers have only limited access to fertilisers due to their cost and poor infrastructure. Levels of fertiliser use in Africa are less than 10% of the world average, whilst 75% of African farmland is severely degraded to the point where it cannot even produce one tone of grain per hectare; needless to say that spurring African growth requires improving Africa’s agricultural sector. Without radical change in agricultural practices, it is widely predicted that by 2020, Africa will have to import 60 million tonnes of cereals, which would cost $14 billion.

To improve the state of agriculture on the continent, African governments collectively, through NEPAD, have identified sustainable agricultural growth as a key development priority working in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), under a plan of action known as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP).

Accordingly Professor Firmino Mucavele, Chief Executive Officer, of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), " NEPAD's Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP),” said Professor Firmino Mucavele, NEPAD Chief Executive, “aims to raise agricultural productivity 6 percent per year by 2015. African governments were committed to allocating 10% of their national budgets to agricultural and rural development, but it was a challenge to bring their commitment to fruition, he said. This Initiative calls for major new investment funding in the agricultural sector from development agencies, the private sector and African governments and those in the Diaspora.