9 April 2009


Inside Africa’s First Global Horticulture Congress

GFAR takes an in-depth look at this exciting event with Dr Norman Looney, Board Chair of the Global Horticulture Initiative, a multi-stakeholder platform for innovation and knowledge sharing in horticulture developed on GFAR’s partnership principles, and President of the International Society for Horticultural Science, co-organizers of the Congress


Dr Norman Looney had much to say about the upcoming first All Africa Horticulture Congress (AAHC) to be held from 31 August to 3 September 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya.  Looking towards the attributes that will make this Congress unique, Norman explains that it will serve as a meeting place for African horticultural colleagues to report and share research findings in Africa in order to solve the problems faced by the horticultural industry across such a vast continent.  

“This Congress recognizes that Africa has a very diverse and often challenging agro-ecology with special challenges for horticulture,” Norman notes. “These challenges warrant a gathering of professionals facing similar or related issues.”


The Congress will address various issues that concern every country on the continent. One of the goals is to focus on strengthening both professional capacities as well as the industries they serve; it will look into the ways that various production systems, from locally learned agro-techniques to big enterprise innovation, will address poverty and food security issues and many other highly pertinent issues surrounding the African horticulture industry. 


A particularly innovative feature of this Congress is that it will focus on the entirety of the African horticulture industry.  Perspectives will be gathered from pioneers in large agribusinesses to smallholder farmers trying to enter into horticultural enterprise.  With both sides of the spectrum equally represented, both can learn a great deal from each other.


But this Congress isn’t only meant to serve as a place in which horticultural science professionals can exchange ideas and knowledge – it’s about  the future and the broader picture of African horticulture.   From the perspectives of the GHI’s Board of Directors, Norman hopes that this Congress, “will result in a greater sense of community and common purpose within the horticulture science industry.”


In addition, “The GHI will also use this Congress to learn about the horticultural science efforts, both in education and research, presently being supported in Africa and to identify partners for future GHI programmes for capacity building, information sharing and targeted research” Norman describes.  In this respect, the Congress will help to shed some light on the current research underway and those involved.


Striving towards a better connected world of African horticulture, Dr Looney also voiced GHI’s intention to work more widely through the networks of the Global Forum and, in the context of Africa, through the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and it’s component national and sub-regional networks, where they will be able to reach colleagues at universities and research centers throughout the continent.


Looking down the road, Norman hopes that this greater goal will lead to more cooperation, collaboration and another AAHC in the next four years, thus developing into a continuous process of learning amongst horticulture industry professionals.


To learn more about the First All Africa Horticulture Congress, please click on the link below.


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           Dr Norman Looney