PABRA Project Partners Mesmerize at Bukavu International Economic Fair

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Beyond its commercial focus, the fair celebrated regional integration, agricultural growth, and the relentless pursuit of innovation in the Great Lakes region. The Fair attracted over 270 entrepreneurs from South Kivu, North Kivu, and Tanganyika Provinces of the DRC, alongside 17 entrepreneurs from Burundi and 72 from Tanzania.

Platform for agricultural innovation and collaboration

The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT through the Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA), brought a splash of innovation and nutrition to the Eastern DRC by facilitating the participation of 10 of its partners in the fair. These partners, supported by the Integrated Agricultural Growth Project in the Great Lakes (PICAGL) and Beans for Women for Empowerment (B4WE) projects – funded by the World Bank and Global Alliance Canada (GAC), respectively – showcased their nutritious food products with enthusiasm.

Their mission was to promote the production, distribution, value addition and commercialization of biofortified crops and related processed products. Different exhibitions filled the atmosphere with excitement as these partners demonstrated the health benefits of biofortified crops, exchanged valuable knowledge, and seized new market opportunities, highlighting the transformative power of these nutritious innovations.

The presence of the Alliance, PABRA, and its partners showed their unwavering dedication to regional integration and agricultural innovation. By participating, they underscored their commitment to initiatives like PICAGL, which aims to foster sub-regional collaborations, promote groundbreaking agricultural practices, and develop robust supply chains and local value systems. This event highlighted their strategic efforts to unite with other sub-regional agricultural entities and drive forward the region’s agricultural growth and sustainability.

Amplifying fair impact through media

The buildup to the fair was nothing short of electrifying. Bukavu was full of anticipation as the city prepared for the event. Posters were put up on every strategic corner, radio waves crackled with excitement, and local media outlets buzzed with news of the impending spectacle.

The atmosphere was charged with expectation as participants from Tanzania, Burundi, and the DRC geared up to showcase their innovative products and groundbreaking ideas, all converging in Bukavu for this occasion.

In addition, the fair burst into life with a riveting press conference on May 6, 2024, at the Chapiteau de Labotte. This crucial event set the tone and highlighted the fair’s ambitious objectives. A vibrant assembly of 61 participants – including journalists, students, researchers, and representatives from governments, NGOs, and farmer organizations – gathered to delve into the event’s goals and significance. The room buzzed with the energy of diverse minds and backgrounds, all united by a shared passion for agricultural innovation and regional cooperation. The stage was set for an unforgettable celebration of progress and collaboration.

Following the press conference, the fair’s spotlight turned to the highly anticipated exhibition of innovations, running up to May 16. The 10-member PABRA delegation impressed attendees with an array of agricultural products, cutting-edge technologies, and practical solutions to boost productivity and enhance livelihoods. Their pavilion became a hive of activity, attracting 2,611 visitors and potential customers. 239 attendees made purchases, bringing the innovations from the exhibition directly into their fields and homes.

Exhibitions and commercial triumphs

One of the standout exhibitors was the National Agricultural Research Institute (INERA), a pivotal Congolese government institution committed to agricultural research and development, including the production of early-generation seed. With support from PABRA, INERA showcased an array of advanced agricultural technologies, featuring six varieties of biofortified beans and six varieties of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. These varieties, rich in zinc, iron and vitamin A, exemplified the transformative potential of biofortification. The public was captivated by the promise these crops held for enhancing food security and nutrition, making INERA’s exhibit one of the highlights of the fair.

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