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Opening Address by His Excellency Maitre Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senega
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Opening Address by His Excellency Maitre Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal

President Wade’s opening address to the “ASNAPP 4th International Roundtable on Natural African Plant Products” held in Dakar, Senegal, August 25, 2004:

It is with great pleasure that I preside this morning over the opening of the fourth ASNAPP International Roundtable on Natural Products.

This is the first time that this conference has taken place in a francophone country, and I am convinced that Senegal can serve, for the francophone regions of the African Sahel, as a door of entry into the domain of natural products.

That will be the opportunity to wish a warm welcome to all the participants of this conference.

As you know, agriculture constitutes the backbone of the economy in most developing countries and assures the well-being and livelihood of a major proportion of their rural populations.

Many African countries, including Senegal, have long depended on traditional crops such as coffee, cotton, rubber, and peanuts as sources of revenue and international trade.However, during the last several years, the prices of these traditional commodities have fallen steeply, with negative consequences for the incomes of rural populations.

The Government of Senegal has, for its part, therefore instituted policies and programs oriented toward the diversification of crops, promotion of export, augmentation of producers’ revenues, and improvement of the well-being and livelihoods of farmers whose resources have traditionally been limited.

But we know that while the prices of traditional agricultural commodities continue to fall, markets for natural products, especially those which are nutritional, have experienced huge growth during the last ten years.

The strong evolution of the world market for nutritional products (food and dietary supplements) alone is estimated at $60 billion per year.There is an unceasing and growing demand for natural, organic products such as teas and herbal tisanes, nutritional supplements, essential oils, herbs and spices, medicinal plants and plants with cosmetic applications.

Market trends have been influenced by a change in consumer behavior away from synthetic products toward natural products. The natural products industry therefore constitutes a means of assuring alternative revenue sources for exporting farmers, while simultaneously addressing the health and nutritional needs of local populations.

Therefore, in order that the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and especially Senegal, may better benefit from this expanding market and take advantage of these opportunities, it is necessary to:

1.Implement quality control systems to assure products that are consistent with buyers’ quality requirements and specifications.

2.Encourage best agricultural and manufacturing practices.

3.Make market information continually available for potential investors in the market.

4.Assure continuous production and promotion of these products.

5.Develop good packaging and good presentation of product.

6.Build human and institutional capacities in order to boost information exchange and commercial networks linking African businesspeople and the Senegalese to international organizations involved in the production of natural products.

7.Enact the necessary policies and logistical support for investment.

Ladies and gentlemen, the theme of this conference, “Market Access and Market Competitiveness of African Natural Plant Products,” conforms perfectly with the political agenda of the NEPAD [New African Partnership for African Development]. African leaders have recognized the need for African countries to have access to world markets by providing high quality products.

The objectives and content of this conference, which are oriented toward establishing a partnership between producers, researchers, processors, exporters, and political decision-makers, further underline the call of the NEPAD for regional partnership and integration.

With more than 20 countries represented here, I am convinced that the sharing of expertise among researchers, manufacturers, producers, entrepreneurs, exporters, and political decision-makers will help to meet the challenges of quality control, packaging, manufacturing techniques, and market development.

I could not conclude without thanking USAID [United States Agency for International Development] and the organizers for choosing Senegal to host this conference.

I hope that your meetings will support these activities, which have already started in Senegal, and will allow both institutions and participants to benefit from ASNAPP programs.

My government will continue to support your efforts, so that we may achieve our objectives and so that Senegal can show the way and serve as an example to other countries.

I declare the ASNAPP conference on market access and competitiveness of African natural plant products now open.