The 2nd edition of the Symposium on the state of agricultural processing in West and Central Africa opened on Tuesday November 21, 2023 in Lomé, Togo. The theme of the symposium was “Promoting research on the processing of agricultural products: achievements and opportunities available to the private sector for the creation of jobs and wealth in West and Central Africa “. The symposium provided a forum for sharing the various solutions and technologies resulting from agricultural research, with a view to promoting them and making them more widely available to private sector stakeholders.

During the discussions, agricultural research experts from West and Central Africa focused on 6 themes: (i) Non-timber forest products: exploitation/ processing/ marketing; (ii) Fruit and vegetables: preservation/processing; (iii) Cereals and grains: preservation/processing; (iv) roots and tubers (cassava and potato conservation/processing/marketing; (v) Livestock (meat and milk): conservation/processing/marketing; (vi) Standards/legislation on processing and marketing of agricultural products.

“Agricultural production has been very high in recent years, but we still find ourselves in a situation where much of the output is lost through lack of processing. These challenges can be met with new technologies and practices, combined with appropriate tools and approaches for communication and knowledge management. These innovative technologies, practices and approaches have the potential to increase production and productivity, reduce post-harvest losses, improve the quality of products and services, and make food systems more resilient and sustainable,” explains Dr. Abdou TENKOUANO in his opening remarks. 

“For the proper promotion of agricultural products, we need to promote research, by building or rehabilitating laboratory platforms for food technology and product quality control to international standards. Because today’s national and international markets are very demanding when it comes to food quality. And for our foodstuffs to be up to scratch, we need research to enable us to produce quality products both nationally and internationally. Finally, to really add value to our products. And this is what will be the source of jobs and the creation of research for farmers and hence for all countries“, insisted Dindiogue Konlani, Director of Cabinet at Togo’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development.

The private sector should also be encouraged to adopt innovations with a view to improving their processing techniques to increase the competitiveness and profitability of products on the national and international markets. The role of the private sector in achieving the post-harvest reduction objective through the extension and adoption of research results is highlighted during the discussions.

The symposium was also an excellent opportunity to advocate greater involvement of research in the processing of agricultural products. Over the 3 days of the symposium, six (06) technical sessions will be held, each focusing on one of the sub-themes defined above. The work of each session is structured around presentations that are the subject of wide-ranging, inclusive and participatory exchanges. A follow-up mechanism will also be set up to monitor implementation of the workshop’s recommendations.