✅ Statement by Lamiaa Melegui on her participation in the 2023 SNRD Africa conference “Transform & Innovate: Future-proof Food Systems” held in Somone/Senegal, 8-13 October, during which she was elected an SNRD co-speaker for the next two years.
Lamiaa is Component Lead of the GIZ Agriculture Innovation Programme in Egypt looking specifically into access to market and business linkages.
I work on agriculture policy and we’ve been collaborating with Fabi which was a regional initiative from the headquarters, collaborating and working in different countries in the agriculture policy with putting a huge emphasis on the gender sensitivity issue. So we’ve been implementing this in Egypt and I’ve been also having meetings and coordination meetings with the Fabi team with colleagues from the headquarters and we had the occasion to get to know more about SNRD during my meeting in Kenya in Nairobi last April and then I get together to get to know more about the team here and accordingly so yeah I’m very happy to be here yes. I’m really looking forward to learning from the overwhelming number of participants coming from a very diverse African nations and this is actually enriching a lot of the discussions and adding value a lot with all the specific themes that are technically related to my day-to-day work because we work on Agriculture and food processing transformation systems starting from the government negotiations and advocacy to smallholder farmers. So we have to find the whole interesting success stories and the lessons learned from across countries. So we can get inspired by how other countries overcome some of our challenges which is great and also we can share our successes in dealing with different technical issues in Egypt. I can talk more about the role of the private sector on bringing the whole value chain and the Agriculture and Food Systems because sometimes we keep on working on the supply level with the farmers and smallholder farmers um we keep on giving them awareness providing them with the technicalities, seeds varieties etc. But we neglect the important role of the private sector which is crucial for the entire development of the value chain because in the end the private sector has the knowledge they have the demand side and in the end we will make sure that the smallholder farmers they are not ending up with their products unsold in the markets because they don’t meet the criteria or meet the expected varieties etc. So a certain level of engagement with the private sector is needed for the development of the whole agriculture policies and Agriculture institutions plus the Food Systems of course.
Yeah, actually it’s it’s a two-way thing. so I think SNRD interestingly brings the bigger picture. so because usually in our day-to-day work, we are focused on our you know how can I get my job done how can I get my what is expected from me so I should focus on one 2 3 4 but sometimes we don’t keep the bigger our eyes on the bigger picture because sometimes for example today we discussed new EU legislation and what is the impact of that on our work in Egypt or in other African countries.
So sometimes really it’s it’s awareness. So we are we as a technical team also in our countries we get to know more about the knowledge um in at the European Union level on the German level and also on the African level. So I’m sure that this is like an eye-opening for me to get to know more people and from their perspectives as EU policies, EU legislations, directives Etc and what I can bring to the table is actually like what we do in Egypt. How did we manage to overcome some challenges? How did we make this happen? How did we make like for example contract farming or how did we get engagement and full support and full ownership of the government institutions or the institutions that we collaborate with as success with our in all across all the projects that we implement? So I think this is a win-win situation in the end.
— Okay one final question which is a bit provocative we’re using some digital tools but in a way what you arguing for is sort of the opposite. It means that Knowledge Management should be done by talking to each other because it’s difficult to put everything onto paper and writing, and it’s not that responsive. I’m just throwing a ball. You can pick it up. —
Yeah well, I agree with you but we are really in a world now that is changing a lot every day. We are having innovation coming everywhere. So now what we are trying really to do in Egypt for example — giving my the country where I work — we are trying to introduce new technologies even for the smallholder farmers you are now likely to find smallholder farmers having their smartphones and how would this impact their agriculture level their climate change understanding their crops their marketing channels to the private sector etc. So digitalization has a lot of opportunities that cannot be neglected but I think maybe also during the covid time we were working like 100% on digital using and capitalizing on the digital tools but I think now we are back to the human interaction which adds a lot to the discussions and actually exchanging business cards and meeting people discussing that this is actually something that we’ve been missing a lot during the pandemic.
So I’m really happy that we are back to seeing each other and discussing and shaking hands and getting networks and giving new horizons to our work. I’m very glad and very honored for the role that GIZ is playing on the African level. I think me as an African citizen coming from Egypt, I see that there’s a lot of momentum now happening from the African Union from the African Development Bank and the Bank for export and import. There is the new Initiative for AfCFTA the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. So I think now African countries, now they are eager to exchange and to trade among themselves. So what is really interesting now with SNRD and the major part of the project that I work on the regional level in Africa, you hardly find a donor or an international partner that takes time and energy and budget to invest in the regional and South-South cooperation, which is really great. I’m very glad to see other African colleagues working in different projects with a lot of similarities to our context but I think this is great we are also as GIZ that we are present on the regional level, not only on the bilateral level.