People from all walks of life, as World Trade Center Illinois Agribusiness Director Chuck Hartke puts it, are gathering in a first-of-its-kind forum in Chicago this week in an effort to grow agricultural exchange and commerce between the U.S. and Africa. Chuck says the 300 participants of the 2008 U.S. Africa Agribusiness Forum have come together to explore how America can play a key role in developing rural agriculture in Africa.
African countries are asking for help and Chuck says the American Midwest, particularly Illinois, possesses the resources to help. Chuck says the top of the line production facilities, quality food products, machinery and equipment available in the Midwest are an example of what’s needed and what’s achievable throughout Africa.
Chuck explains that a continent that’s four and a half times the size of the U.S., with ample fertile land, has the untapped potential to not only solve its own hunger issues, but become a global player in food commerce.
Right now, though, Chuck says the reality is a continent of 900 million African people who, as a majority, aren’t even able to feed themselves. But, he says this forum is meant to spark dialogue and courtship that spans the Atlantic Ocean.
Chuck says Africa represents a huge portion of land that’ s not contributing to the global food source and its time for the U.S. and Africa to work together to capitalize on the economic opportunities for agribusiness between the two nations.
I spoke with Chuck during a break from this morning’s sessions and workshops. You can listen to my interview with Chuck here: