The Africa Agriculture and Science Week (AASW8), hosted by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), takes place from 5 to 8 June 2023 at the Durban International Conference Centre, South Africa. More than 600 innovators, researchers, technology developers, private sector representatives, investors and policy-makers from over 50 African countries are expected at the event.

Under the theme: Linking Science, Innovation, and Agri-Business for Resilient Food Systems, AASW8 aims to provide agribusinesses with the necessary platform to take advantage of available technology and innovation.

The programme includes an opening plenary session with a high-level panel session and FARA leadership prize for Advancing Science and Innovation in Agriculture, plenary sessions, parallel sessions, side events (workshops), an agritech expo, and match-making sessions.

An action plan, coordinating activities to enhance agricultural productivity, improve livelihoods, and build resilience to climate change and other shocks on the continent, will be launched on the first day of the event. Another highlight is the Durban Roundtable, which will focus on leveraging and combining science and agribusiness to achieve the outcomes expected from the Dakar 2 ‘food and agriculture delivery compact’.

Parallel sessions will focus on

  • Improving Climate Resilience, Natural Resources Management
  • Making African Food Systems Nutrition Sensitive and Gender-Responsive
  • Strengthening Science – Business Linkages to Boost Intra-African Trade
  • Transition of Farming Systems
  • Knowledge Management, Digitalization, and Youth Entrepreneurship, and
  • Policies, Institutions, Capacities

Interactive match-making workshops for small-scale farmers, investors, agribusinesses and researchers.

  1. Developing small-scale farmer opportunities through innovation

This session will mentor 25 small farmers from eThekwini on the logistics of converting their farming operations into viable businesses. Speakers include Lucy Mimano, a project manager from one of the most successful peri-urban farming projects in Kenya, as well as Sithembile Ngobese, Director of Sustainability and Nutrition at Unilever Southern Africa. Supplementing the workshop will be a field trip to the eThekwini’s Agri hub at Ottawa, near King Shaka International Airport.

  1. Developing reliable and viable farming operations

In this session, small-scale farmers will learn how to operate in small spaces with inexpensive innovation. Zandile Khumalo, CEO of Urban Roots, will share her story about growing produce on the Morningside Mall rooftop and supplying 21 restaurants on the below floors with fresh vegetables and herbs with zero-carbon emission.

  1. Biogas as a green solution to Africa’s energy deficit

This workshop by BER Energy will focus on green energy production via biogas technology to address Africa’s energy deficit. They are also calling for researchers who specialize in creating value add bio-fertilizers and other bio by-products from plant waste. They have a research and development (R&D) fund exceeding USD5 million for partnering with such R&D researchers. The presenter is the CEO of RCB (USA) Otto Hager.

  1. Forestry bio by-products adding value to the forestry value chain

Apart from the provision of wood and forest foods, forest land itself has many essential and varied uses. Mark Barnardo, General Manager of Forestry KZN, SAPPI Southern Africa will share his insights.

  1. Protecting the biodiversity of sensitive areas

In this workshop, Giovanni Sale, GM of Research, Planning and Nurseries at Sappi Southern Africa, will share their successful project initiatives in implementing farming and agro-processing practices that protect the biodiversity of sensitive conflict areas between farmers and forestry.

  1. Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) showcasing agri-investment opportunities

This workshop targets agro-processing investment opportunities in KZN province and the Dube Trade Port area. A presentation will showcase areas where partnership opportunities in KZN province exist for researchers and investors in investment.

Source: AASW