EVENT HOSTING: IMPROVING THE FIRST MILE OF FOOD DISTRIBUTION
Fellow B Corp InspiraFarms provides on and off-grid refrigeration units to farmers in developing countries. We worked together to host its first ‘Future of Fresh’ event in London. The evening was a discussion of the challenges around the first mile of food distribution and how companies like InspiraFarms help farmers earn more for their produce while expanding their access to export markets in the UK and beyond.
The event saw speeches from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and the Shell Foundation, who have partnered with InspiraFarms to conduct research on finding solutions to post-harvest food losses and conduct other field trials. InspiraFarms also debuted a mini-documentary highlighting their products at work and the farmers who use them to store their crops. It was a huge success with positive feedback from a mix of attendees from government bodies, universities and notable trade media, including The Grocer and AgriInvestor.
Believe it or not, it is culture, with agriculture claiming the top spot. Nigeria produces almost as many films as Bollywood, at more than 50 per week, with each film employing more than a hundred people. It is not surprising therefore that the Nigerian film industry (Nollywood) is worth almost US$ 4 billion.
Africa is rich in talent and creativity, but we don’t get to see much of it (yet). The pool of talent cannot be commercialised due to the lack of crucial infrastructure. Africa’s world of Music, Art, Fashion, Literature, Design isn’t managing to go global, yet it could be a vast contributor to the continent’s economy.
The African Arts Institute, the European Union and UNESCO’s National Commission (among others) have found that culture “contributes substantially to development at national level, fostering economic growth”. A 5-year study, concluded in 2013, found that culture could be as important as a source of income as tourism. And so, as of this year, and thanks to UNESCO’s findings, governments in Africa can now be “officially” persuaded to start giving priority to the type of infrastructure that will facilitate artists to bring their work to the masses.
I expect that Africa’s big transformation in the upcoming years will therefore not just be economic but also cultural. And I for one can’t wait to see what’s going to hit the world when it does.
Almost one year ago, I entitled one of my blogs “Food for Thought”.
In it I mention that food shortages might soon cease to be a reality in Africa thanks to ”new crops resistant to heat, droughts, and every bug under the sun”, and that according to Harvard University, the entire continent will easily be able to produce enough to feed its growing population within the next decade. In fact, Africa might start exporting food by 2020!
I would like to elaborate on this today.
Africa is the second largest continent in the world after Asia, and with a total land area of more than 3 million hectares, its landmass is more than 3 x that of the USA.
Agriculture and horticulture are crucial economic activities, providing employment for many, and serving as the basis for many industries. With more than 200 million people (50% of the total labour force) active in agriculture a decade ago (WHO), it is estimated that this percentage will increase to 60 % by the end of this year.
As Africa continues to grow in economic significance, combined with the afore-mentioned new technologies, is it safe to assume that land is therefore the continent’s greatest asset?