AGDA (Agricultural Development Agency) Launch
The big program item for the Africa Agritech conference was the launch of AGDA. AGDA is part of the Public-Private Growth Initiative (PPGI). It was established in April 2018 under the leadership of Dr Johan van Zyl, CEO and President of Toyota in Europe.
Watch the embedded YouTube video below from the 44th minute. It shows the launch as well as a video that explains the thinking behind this initiative. If you missed the conference but would have liked to be there – this is almost as good. The video includes an address from Minister of Agriculture, Land reform and Rural development, Thoko Didiza.
The conference according to Twitter (#AAT2020)
I now finally understand the usefulness of Twitter (I know, I’m a bit slow). By searching for #AAT2020 on Twitter, I was able to get a complete picture. From the tweets, it is clear that the event was well attended.
Some of the issues and concerns that were discussed by the panels and which clear from Twitter included:
- The lack of funding of research in agriculture from Government. See the following article which sets it out perfectly: https://www.farmersweekly.co.za/opinion/by-invitation/low-investment-in-research-hampers-agri-growth/;
- The slow and ineffective reaction in South Africa in general to impacts of climate change;
- The cost of capital is still too expensive for small farmers in South Africa;
- Collaboration is the key to unlocking value in the agriculture sector;
- The challenge of making technology accessible, affordable and understandable to more farmers.
My day at #AAT2020
I visited the conference and expo on the last day of the three-day conference as a trade visitor. My purpose was to meet agritech companies and to network to be able to launch this blog.
On the day and time that I was there, there were very few visitors in the exhibition itself. Most people there attended the panel discussion that was going on in the conference area. The conference and exhibition areas shared the same hall, partitioned by a curtain. The noise made it very difficult to have conversations in the exhibition area since the sound from the panel discussion in the conference was so loud.
There were about 35 exhibitions. In my opinion, this is very limited for an industry with lots of new entrants. The exhibitors included:
- Agricultural Services Companies (Afgri, Grobank, ESusFarm, FarmersAssistant, Standard Bank, ThreeSprints, Syngenta)
- Chemicals and fertilizers (Agri Technovation, Syngenta, Talborne Organics)
- Data loggers and sensors (Euca Technologies)
- Data services and consulting (Britehouse, DataCentrix)
- Electricity Solutions (MiPower)
- Embassies (Netherland, Canada, Danish)
- Inventory and Asset Management (Ronin, Technetium)
- Livestock technology (FarmRanger, SwiftVee, Topigs Norvin)
- Livestock share scheme (Bitfarming)
- Media (Landbou Weekblad)
- Packaging (Knack Packaging)
- Precision farming focusing on equipment (Cerealis, JohnDeere, RovicLeers, Kesla)
- Precision farming software (FarmTrack, Eleaf, Agri Technovation / MyFarmWeb, The Awareness Company)
- Research and government organisations (CSIR, InnovationHub, SA Tobacco Transformation Alliance)
- Security (Olarm)
- Vertical farming (CAN-Agri)
I’m not sure what I expected – Nampo or Fruit Logistica? Africa Agritech has the potential to grow much bigger, as long as the exhibitors keep on returning and bring their competitors with them.
The lesson for me: rather pay to attend one or all three of the conference days. The event was well organised for conference attendees, but not really suited for someone who just wanted to meet exhibitors. My reasons would be the shared space, the noise level because of it, and limited number of exhibitions.