The sixth edition of the Agriculture and Animal Resources Expo (SARA) was held from September 29 to October 8, 2023, in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. With the support of Invest for Jobs around ten Ivorian SMEs had the opportunity to showcase their products and establish professional connections. Invest for Jobs also formed a partnership to train young individuals in industrial mechanics.
Plantains, cocoa, cassava, and even cashews. The extensive array of Ivorian agricultural treasures took center stage during SARA (Salon de l’agriculture et des ressources animales ) 2023. For ten days, approximately ten Ivorian Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) had the chance to exhibit their products at the fair, with the support of Invest for Jobs. Invest for Jobs Côte d'Ivoire's booths garnered significant attention, attracting over 200 visitors daily.
Invest for Jobs has committed to providing a visibility platform for a range of SMEs. 13 companies were given the opportunity to showcase their products. This participation allowed businesses to demonstrate their expertise, enhance the visibility of their products, and establish professional and commercial connections through meetings with professionals, business appointments, and informal exchanges with key industry players.
The booths were inaugurated in the presence of María Elena Molina-Ruz, Cooperation Project Manager at the German Embassy in Côte d'Ivoire, and Marc Levesque, Programme Director of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, which implements Invest for Jobs in Côte d’Ivoire. The latter emphasised the importance for the International Cooperation to support Ivorian SMEs at the expo.
SARA 2023 allocated a significant portion of its programme to youth, organising a "Youth Day" aimed at strengthening the interest of young Ivorians in the agricultural sector. Invest for Jobs seized this opportunity to establish a new collaboration on Wednesday, October 4, focusing on training and employment in small machine mechanics.
This collaboration, undertaken with the Société de Commerce et de Représentation Industrielle (SACRI) and the École Supérieure d'Agronomie from the IFA Group (SUPAGRO Afrique), aims to enhance the integration of young people in the labour market while promoting agricultural mechanisation in Côte d'Ivoire.
The primary goal of this partnership is to train and professionally integrate at least 240 young individuals in small machine mechanics (both agricultural and industrial) over an 18-months period. It includes theoretical training in mechanisation, followed by practical training designed to create lasting employment opportunities in the mechanisation sector for the youth. Invest for Jobs is supporting SACRI and SUPAGRO Afrique at every stage of the project's implementation. This encompasses providing equipment for training facilities, workshops, and dormitories, along with financial assistance for the beneficiaries' training programmes to create job prospects. Additionally, Invest for Jobs will offer its assistance as necessary for the training and development of both trainers and trainees.
SACRI will provide training materials, practical equipment, and a mobile training truck. As for SUPAGRO Afrique, they will offer suitable facilities, equipped with support from Invest for Jobs. They will also manage accommodations, develop educational materials in collaboration with teachers and oversee teaching coordination.
Furthermore, Invest for Jobs has established a partnership agreement with the Ivorian Ministry of Technical Education, Vocational Training, and Apprenticeship (METFPA) within the framework of its Second Chance School (E2C) programme. E2C aims to reduce the number of young people seeking qualifications and ensure their long-term professional integration through large-scale training programmes. The agreement between Invest for Jobs, SACRI, and SUPAGRO Afrique aligns perfectly with this strategy.
This new partnership also falls under the FORPRODE project, co-financed by the European Union. Integrated into the Invest for Jobs programme in Côte d’Ivoire, FORPRODE's goal is to train and professionally integrate young Ivorians into companies active in the fields of industrial mechanics and information and communication technology (ICT).
Initiated in 1997 by Côte d'Ivoire, the Agricultural and Animal Resources Fair (SARA) is a significant event for the Ivorian economy. In 2022, the agricultural sector accounted for approximately 22 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and generated more than 60% of the country's employment. For this reason, the sector occupies a central place in the strategic development plan of the Ivorian state, which aims to initiate major structural transformations to boost national agricultural production.
Despite global challenges such as the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and regional tensions, the Ivorian agricultural sector continues to demonstrate resilience. It remains a crucial driver of the country's development, fostering industrialisation, export growth, job creation, and increase of incomes.
The sixth edition of SARA, originally scheduled for 2021 but postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has the theme: "African Agriculture in the Face of Internal and External Shocks: What Structural Innovations to Strengthen Agricultural Sectors and Ensure Food Sovereignty?" This event welcomed around 300,000 visitors, 650 exhibiting companies, and facilitated the establishment of strategic partnerships. SARA 2023 stands as a pivotal moment to contemplate the future of agriculture in Africa and explore innovative solutions to address current and future challenges.
As West Africa's premier agricultural sector trade fair, SARA serves as the prime showcase of Ivorian expertise. Its goal is to highlight and promote the potential of agriculture, livestock, and fisheries in Côte d'Ivoire.
The 2023 edition of SARA saw the participation of new countries, including the Netherlands, the world's second-largest agricultural product exporter after the United States. The sectors represented at this fair encompass the plant sector, agri-food processing, food products, wines and beverages, as well as training, research, and development.
The successful applicants come from the sectors industry, education, and fashion. As part of Invest for Jobs, the Facility Investing for Employment (IFE) co-finances more than 6 million euros for their job-creating investments.
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