Scope for Indian agri companies to invest in Africa: R M Singh

At the recent ‘India-Africa Agribusiness Forum’ of The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh highlighted the scope for Indian companies to invest in Africa for production of pulses, vegetable oils


Addressing the ‘India-Africa Agribusiness Forum’, organized by FICCI in partnership with Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, Mr Radha Mohan Singh mentioned that the Indian companies could also take advantage of the Government’s decision to establish food processing clusters in African countries.

Multiple stakeholders across the agri food value chain from Africa and India participated in the two-day Forum. Senior Ministers from various countries in Africa like Botswana, Seychelles, Zambia were leading business delegations for this forum. Leading international institutions like IFC, FAO, DFID, DRDO, ICRISAT, EXIM Bank, CSIR and leading corporates are deliberating on the possible areas of cooperation for food security in addition to themes such as innovative financing models; empowering agri sector using innovation and science and technology; and many more.

The deliberations at the business forum will help policy makers as well as industry to identify the ways for intensifying existing partnership models and identifying the new opportunities for deepening Indo-Africa connect in the agri food value chain through trade, investment, innovative projects, technology transfer and sharing best practices.

Ms Rita Teaotia, Commerce Secretary, Government of India, in her address, identified several areas for collaboration in agri business between Indian and African countries. These include food processing, organic farming, plant tissue culture, entrepreneurship development, capacity building for which the Government of India is expected extend lines of credit to African nations.

Mr Harshavardhan Neotia, President, FICCI, observed that there were numerous opportunities for collaboration in agri-business between India and Africa. The India-Africa engagement needs to move up the value chain in knowledge sharing, technology transfers, institutional capacity building and skills development. “We need to make the business of farmto-fork central to the economic discourse between India and Africa. We have to work towards strengthening cooperation in increasing our agri-food exports to world markets and to provide gainful employment to teeming millions,” he said.

Mr Ajay Kakra, Leader, Agriculture and Natural, PwC India, presented a theme paper titled India-Africa partnership in agriculture: Current and future prospects.

The main findings of the report are:

  • Key ‘high-impact’ partnership opportunity areas include agri input and farm machinery, milk and meat products, technology transfer and capacity building, food processing, and developing institutional innovations for improving farmers’ access to output markets.
  • Opportunities exist for Indian investments in these sectors and for Africa to learn from the Indian experience. Based on the Indian experience, some successful intervention models are also presented, supported by case studies.

Further, the paper has tried to suggest suitable intervention approaches and models to replicate India’s success stories in these key partnership areas.

• It is also evident that at the production level, timely access to right quality inputs, information and technology restricts agricultural productivity, which is a major impediment restricting Africa from realising its true potential in the sector.

• Capacity building and sensitisation of farmers are critical in ensuring adoption of new technologies.

• Policy-level changes are also required to attract and sustain investments in the African agricultural sector.

Mr V S Sahney, Chairman, Sun International, in his vote of thanks address, pointed out that there exist natural complementarities between India and Africa. These should be exploited through the formation of joint ventures and technology transfer for raising farm production and productivity.