Dr Maureen Duru - Onweni. Founder / Director, The Food Bridge vzw at Tropentag 2018
Across the globe, having an agro food sector that is able to meet the huge demands placed on it, is a top priority for governments, global agencies, researchers, entrepreneurs and actually everyone. Although food is a mundane everyday thing, there are different complexities in the way we produce or eat food. Even what we accept as food is not a simple act. Thus adding to the challenges of getting it from the source of production, to the place of consumption.
The African food system is as complex and diverse as the continent. Despite the resources available globally and efforts already made, the agro food sector in Africa is yet to reach its full potential. The problems are ever evolving and taking new forms, thus new solutions need to be found and partnerships expanded to include all stakeholders in the development of this sector in Africa.
African Diaspora communities are not just dynamic components of the localities where they are situated but also of Africa. This is because migration is not just about those that left but more importantly, it is about those left behind. It is for those left behind, that Diasporas continue to maintain links to Africa using economic, socio cultural, religious and even political mechanisms.
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 -
The Helping Hand Project