WHAT one could christen it as a return of the giant, last week (from 10th through 12th May 2022) the Global Pulse Confederation (GPC) held its annual Global Pulse Conference after being put on hold for about two good years due to an unprecedented outbreak of coronavirus pandemic in the late 2019.
An annual event that usually brings together traders, policy makers, trade support institutions, inter alia, was held in the city of Dubai attracting more than four-hundred participants from nearly all continents on earth.
Apart from trade linkages, the conference had an ample space for dialogues and speeches from delegates, from which ideas, aspirations and experiences were amply shared.
These occasions helped expanding understandings on number issues, among them being the indispensable connectivity of the world economy and confusion on markets. It should be remembered that since inception of the pandemic, global logistics system turned shambolic, containers became scarce, which reduced free flow of the amount of agro-commodities to the overseas.
Last year, Tanzania Pulses Network had to convene a meeting of a number of cooperative unions in Manyara, trying to explain to them the reasons behind drop of prices and sagging of procurements of commodities by trading companies.
The major reason was kept clear, containers were scarce and so the port was relatively out of service.
While farmers were easy to understand and believe the message one point could not be escaped, that much as this problem didn’t originate in Tanzania its ramifications were felt all over the world.
This could be clearly verified in the conference which became the leading discussion angle by many delegates who got an opportunity to share their views. Another aspect that got a special attention was a question of markets.
It seems to be a normal way of thinking, that you can’t sell a commodity to a country that produce. That is to say, if a country A produces dry beans then country B that produce the same should look for another country to export its products.
To an astonishment of those like me who held that thinking, North America (led by United States of America) which is one of the leading producers of dry beans in the world a good market for the same product from Latin America (represented by Brazil).
In an extreme case, it appears that Argentina and Brazil have been trading with each on the same kind of product. It makes some good sense.
That, much as a country can produce a certain product, it is not a guarantee that it will reach the climax of the local demand and that even if production may hit the roof top, there might be seasons which a demon of shortage will devour sores in the cities, a case which will definitely necessitate importation of the produce from another country. To be practical, it’s good to draw an example from beans trade between Tanzania and Uganda.
Though Tanzania boast to be the Africa’s top producer of dry beans, it is beyond doubt that both countries are Africa’s leading producers of dry beans.
Whereas Tanzania has been on the frontline in exporting a huge amount of beans to “the pearl of Africa”, there are certain months that direction has been turning southward. These are months which we are out of season and Uganda’s supplies helps filling the gap because lack of a product does not do away with consumers’ taste.
This gives us an important insight into how are we supposed to tread in the newly created Africa Continental Free Trade Are (AfCFTA).
It is easy to make conclusion that African countries can hardly actualize agricultural trade among themselves because African economy is agricultural economy, that is to say “we are all doing the same craft why bothering dong business among us”? The above stated scenarios prove that narrative is no longer factual.
We can still make friends with a brother that dwells in the eleventh street but at the same time knock your neighbour’s door every day in the morning. If this will not be an eye-opener to anyone aspiring to get involved in agribusiness or to a policy maker who envisages the possibility of creating streams of agricultural market flows, probably nothing will.