30 years

How can knowledge lead to competitiveness?

Having a great idea for a business or producing quality products for market does not guarantee success and profits. CTA has seen time and again how entrepreneurial activity has been stymied due to lack of access to information and networks or poor enabling environments.

Youth engagement in agriculture is central to its transformation into a globally competitive sector in ACP countries. However, young people are leaving rural areas and migrating to cities in large numbers in search of jobs. This is a worrying trend for the future of agriculture as the average age of a farmer in the ACP is between 55 and 60 years. It is important to change the image of agriculture as an employer of last resort to one that is seen as a profitable and rewarding career option for young people. An enabling environment is needed to encourage the participation of youth in agribusiness.

CTA is engaged in initiatives with its partners to promote greater youth engagement in agriculture and improve the skills they need to become more competitive.

Only by empowering young people with skills and networks, can CTA continue to champion knowledge is competitiveness.

In 2007, Dr. Irene Egyir, head of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at the University of Ghana, attended a training-of-trainers’ workshop organised by CTA in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Accra. The workshop was designed to introduce scientists and others to the innovation systems concept and its relevance to understanding, analysing and strengthening the Agricultural Science, Technology and Innovation (ASTI) system for enhanced agricultural performance in ACP countries.

Trade within and between regions can play an important role in stimulating economic growth and reducing poverty, so governments should do their upmost to support the cross-border movement of goods and services. But in much of sub-Saharan Africa, this simply isn't happening. Official figures for 2008 suggest intra-regional trade in Africa was just 10% of total trade, compared to 27% within Latin America and the Caribbean, 47% in Asia and 70% in the European Union, although this didn't take into account substantial informal trade.

"In 2007, when we held the first Brussels briefing, agriculture wasn't seen as a high priority by the vast majority of ACP countries," says Isolina Boto, head of CTA's Brussels office. "At the time, just four or five of the 79 ACP countries had identified agriculture and rural development as their main priority for receiving European Commission support in their National Indicative Programmes (NIPs)."

CTA has played an active role in supporting the development of agricultural Market Information Systems (MIS), which collect, process and disseminate information on agricultural markets and their dynamics. The first models, developed in the 1980s, were, in part, designed to fill a gap left by market liberalisation, offering information aimed at helping the state to inform policies and strengthening farmers' negotiating position with buyers.