What will be remembered from the 2019 Abidjan Agriculture and Animal Resources Fair

Held from 22 November to 1 December at the initiative of the Ivorian government, the fifth edition of the International Exhibition of Agriculture and Animal Resources (SARA) in Abidjan was full and proved the dynamism of the Ivorian primary sector.

According to the first assessment made by the organizers, nearly 600 companies and various structures from 29 countries attended to welcome the 360,000 visitors who visited the site, located near Félix Houphouët-Boigny International Airport. A high number of visitors, which seems to confirm the strong agricultural performance of the leading economic power in the WAEMU zone: cocoa bean exports up 7.1% over 12 months, natural rubber sales up 11%, record cotton harvest (+16%, to 510,000 tonnes), healthy food crops… This 2019 SARA edition also highlighted the positive developments in the livestock sector. Sheep, goats, pigs… In total, Côte d’Ivoire produced more than 61,000 tonnes of meat this year, a figure higher than the government’s initial estimates. In terms of fisheries, too, the country can boast significant results: with its 150,000 ha of lagoons, 350,000 ha of lakes and 200,000 km² of maritime areas, it catches nearly 160,000 tonnes of fish annually from industrial fishing.

Transformation and financing

However, the transformation of local production remains low, at around one-third. This was an essential point raised by Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly during his closing speech. « …] The Ivorian government will accelerate the local processing of our raw materials, on which our country ranks first in the world and has important comparative advantages: cocoa, cotton, rubber and oil palm, to name but a few, » the Ivorian Chief Executive reiterated. Another shortcoming mentioned by many of the professionals present at SARA is the lack of support for agriculture. « Agriculture in Côte d’Ivoire feeds 70% of the population. However, only 5% of the agricultural sector receives financing, » said Issa Fadiga, Director General of the Banque populaire de Côte d’Ivoire. It is not surprising in these circumstances that the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly, invited banking stakeholders to remedy this problem in order to sustainably support the sector. While waiting for financial institutions to agree to open more credit gates, the Ivorian authorities have already welcomed the record level of investment intentions, which amounted to CFAF 238 billion ($400 million, almost double the amount reached in the previous edition in 2017, at 140 billion) at the closing of the Fair.

New products

It is also worth mentioning the launch of the process of labelling the Attiéké des Lagunes and the pagnes baoulé in protected geographical indications (PGI) by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Souleymane Diarrassouba. The organizers announced that the famous Ivorian dish and the traditional fabric inherited from the Ashanti kingdom would later be joined by the pottery of Katiola, the artisanal canvas of Korhogo, the coffee of the mountains of Man, the cocoa of Soubré and the mango of Kent of Korhogo. Finally, this fifth edition of SARA inaugurated its first hackathon, called Agreen-Startup. Among the 19 projects in competition, the first prize finally went to the start-up BioSave, which allows farmers to make their own fertilizer by recycling waste. This bodes well for « an African agriculture with the assets and potential to meet the challenges of food security and nutrition by 2030 », concluded the Ivorian Prime Minister.