Prof Zerihun Tadele of University of Bern Switzerland. Photo credit Francois Stepman
The food bridge vzw was privileged to organize a workshop at the ongoing Tropentag 2018, as part of the African Diaspora Projects Initiative . The theme of the workshop was “Linking African Diaspora agro food entrepreneurs to research and SMEs. It is significant that the organizers of Tropentag 2018 gave us this opportunity because not many realize the relevance of the African Diaspora input in the agro food sector . This workshop was a follow-up to our conference at the Bouchout castle Meise Belgium on the 25th of April 2018, which focused on the African Diaspora food market and linking research to diaspora investments in food processing and other agricultural value chains.
The concept of the Tropentag workshop 5 is based on the premise that African Diaspora entrepreneurship, is an overlooked opportunity for a sustainable input in the development discourse and policy making .
For years the focus has been on the remittances from African Diasporas, as a constant source of economic empowerment and development in many African communities. Now a new generation of African Diaspora entrepreneurs, are taking advantage of their global interconnections for innovative projects in the agro food sector in Africa and Europe.
An engaged African Diaspora entrepreneur with links to research and SMEs is an asset in the development of Africa.
The keynote speaker at the conference was Prof Zerihun Tadale. Group Leader, Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern Switzerland, whose paper on the “Role of African scientific diaspora: Opportunities and Challenges”. The other speakers and their presentations included -
Ms Eva Ba, Cofounder Seregal and Juleva - makers of Talina Bissap Hibiscus Drink - How a Belgian product initiative became an agriculture development project in Senegal.
Mr Pape Ousmane NDIAYE, CEO and Founder of Fruitech - Yeesal: an agri tech hub serving the rural world and young people
Ms Odile Ano, CEO of 1001 Noyaux France , member of the PAEPARD/ColeACP consortium - 1001 Noyaux : From value creation to eco-responsible consumption.
Dr. Helene Mavar, Lecturer ULB Belgium and University of Kisangani, Congo. Founder Aksantimed - Africa: innovation and food processing for development / Afrique: l'innovation et la transformation alimentaire pour le développement
Mr Philippe Convent, Entrepreneurs for Entrepreneurs Belgium - Socially engaged Entrepreneurs supporting sustainable development in the low and middle income countries
Mr Lens Lepauw, Microstart Belgium - Get to know microStart and it's support for entrepreneurship towards African Diaspora
The recommendations from the workshop are :
- We need a one stop shop where the national legislation of European countries on requirements ( which now are barriers) to African food import can be easily accessed and clearly explained (beyond phyto sanitary standards).
- Funding and meetings are too focused and organised according to "schools of thoughts", thus not allowing for cross contacts and discussion between agro-ecology, conservation agriculture, bio-technology, resource poor farming and the different stakeholders.
- There should be a strong European network of African Diaspora researchers and entrepreneurs working in the agro food sector.
- The Annual State of the EU address by President Juncker at the European Parliament on the 12th of September 2019 gives encouraging signals for an increase and improvement in the EC-AU dialogue, including on research collaboration between Africans and Europeans.
The Helping Hand Project