clear
Tuesday June 30th, 2015 8:46AM

Ga. aims to boost agriculture trade with Gabon; poultry industry sees much potential

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) -- Agricultural experts from Georgia have inked a deal with the West African country of Gabon to help develop its tiny farming sector - a partnership that could lead to lucrative deals for state producers. Some of the state's poultry industry officials saw much potential in the country for their products.

State officials say industry, government and academic leaders who visited Gabon were asked for help in training future farmers and in developing a food safety inspection program.

Georgia officials say the three-year deal reached last November not only furthers Gabon's goal of providing more of its own food but also presents export opportunities for Georgia's food producers.

Oil-endowed Gabon has to import food for its 1.6 million people - but President Ali Bongo Ondimba says he wants to dramatically increase the country's agricultural production.

Gabon sells billions of dollars of crude drilled from its onshore and offshore oil fields every year, but its agriculture sector accounts for just 5 percent of the economy.

Such an imbalance can cause problems for developing nations. A jump in inflation or other disruptions can make it costly for Gabon's people to buy food staples from abroad. It is one reason Bongo's government has announced a goal of increasing agriculture production to 20 percent of the country's overall output.

"Gabon wants to diversity its economy. We are trying to make sure the country does not rely solely on oil revenues," said Michael Moussa-Adamo, Gabon's ambassador to the United States. "Unfortunately, with the oil curse - we say the oil curse - people are moved away from agriculture."

Under an agreement with Gabon, experts from the University of Georgia will create an agricultural curriculum that starts with students in farming-focused high schools and extends through technical college, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said. Georgia had the 16th-highest revenue for crops in 2011, according to federal statistics, and is the biggest U.S. producer of broiler chickens, an industry that Gabon wants to develop.

Gabonese officials also want to create an agricultural research center that focuses on practical issues, much as UGA's extension service develops new crops suited to Georgia and devises methods to prevent crop and livestock disease.

Officials are finalizing contracts to establish payments and terms, Moussa-Adamo said. The effort is being entirely funded by the Gabonese government.

For Georgia, the potential payoff would largely be in trade opportunities. Gabonese residents had the third-highest income in Africa last year, according to World Bank estimates, meaning they can afford foreign products.

During a trip to Gabon, Black and leaders from Georgia's poultry industry walked through a supermarket in a middle-class neighborhood in the Gabonese capital of Libreville. Black said the business delegation noticed that a frozen chicken from France cost the equivalent of $15.

"They were quite frankly licking their chops saying, `We can get a bird in here for less than $15,'" said Black, who is also researching whether Georgia firms can sell chicken farming equipment to Gabon to stimulate its own poultry industry. Black said he also hopes to send inspectors from his department to advise Gabon on ways to run food safety programs.

J. Scott Angle, dean of UGA's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said the low production in Gabon's agricultural economy was partly a consequence of its oil wealth. Meat and rice were among the top 10 imports into Gabon from 2007 through 2009, according to United Nations statistics.

While Angle said there is room for Gabon to expand production, the limitations of its hot, wet climate will require it import at least some food in the long run. And a revived agricultural sector could expand the demand for Gabonese businesses to import agricultural infrastructure.

"We're hoping that those products are purchased from Georgia," he said.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 1 year ago )
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
More overtime on the way? Obama proposes broader coverage
The Obama administration is proposing making up to 5 million more people eligible for overtime — its latest effort to boost pay for lower-income workers.
7:57AM ( 49 minutes ago )
Christie back at high school to announce 2016 run
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who spent three years as president of his high school class, is returning to his alma mater to announce he's running for president of his country.Th...
6:45AM ( 2 hours ago )
Minority leaders form "Black-Brown Alliance" to oppose at-large voting
More than 20 people, including leaders in the African-American and Latino communities, gathered in a conference room at the Newtown Florist Club in Gainesville to discuss the city's at-large voting system.
5:56PM ( 14 hours ago )
Price Road house destroyed in fire
Hall County Fire Services responded to the 5200 block of Price Road on the report of a barn fire Monday morning.
4:16PM ( 16 hours ago )
GSP searches for vehicle involved in hit-and-run that critically injured man
The Georgia State Patrol is asking for some help from the public as troopers search for a vehicle that struck a 64-year-old man on Clarks Bridge Road last Thursday.
2:34PM ( 18 hours ago )