As we start the New Year, we hear a lot in the media about the slowdown in emerging markets, even the end of convergence between rich and low-income countries. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “The news of the slowdown is greatly exaggerated.” While BRIC countries’ growth is slowing down, this is not the case for most of the other 150 low and middle-income economies.
Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, continues to grow at a good rate in spite of drops in oil and other commodity prices. While much of that growth is driven by services (notably telecommunications, banking, modern marketing and tourism), the rise of these sectors doesn’t overshadow the basic reality that productivity increases in agriculture worldwide continue to play a fundamental role. The sector employs more people than any other, and improvements in agriculture and the associated supply chains increase the real purchasing power of local food consumers, i.e., the vast majority of the developing world’s population. In short, the agricultural sector and agri-business govern food security, and are big drivers of economic growth.
I am therefore pleased to announce that GBSN has launched a partnership with the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (http://www.ifama.org/). IFAMA is a professional organization, which provides a platform for industry, government, practitioners, NGOs, academics and students to enhance food and agricultural business management. Its membership spans high as well as low-income countries.
IFAMA is a multi-faceted organization. In addition to its annual World Symposium and Conference, IFAMA publishes the International Food and Agribusiness Management Review. As you know, thanks to Gates Foundation support, GBSN was instrumental in creating agri-business management courses including local case studies in Sub-Saharan Africa, which are being delivered by business schools in various parts of the continent. Our partnership with IFAMA will leverage GBSN’s knowledge and reach in that important sector, while IFAMA will forge new relationships with business schools that are engaged in agribusiness management education. I extend a warm welcome to IFAMA’s incoming Chair, Johan Van Rooyen, Director of the Standard Bank Center for Agri-Leadership and Mentorship Development, and a professor in Agricultural Economics at Stellenbosch University, South Africa.
On behalf of GBSN’s staff, I wish you a very happy and prosperous year, and hope to meet many of you in coming months.
Guy Pfeffermann is the Founder & CEO of Global Business School Network