SC Commissioner Weathers: Kenya Trade Mission Recap

The South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, Hugh Weathers just back from a big trip, and it was not all fun and games. There was some work involved. Commissioner, tell us where you went and what you did?

“I was asked by the US Department of Agriculture, along with four or five colleagues from around the country, to go and visit Kenya, in middle part of Eastern Africa, right on the coast. It is looked upon like some of the other countries we visited as an emerging market potential country for trade with the United States. And our job, obviously, is to look at how that could benefit agriculture from across the United States, and my job, South Carolina in particular. So we made that trip and engaged in what will hopefully be some productive conversations.”

Let’s talk about some of the opportunities that you saw while you were there. Where do you think those lie In Kenya?

“Well, the big topic for them is the acceptance of GMOs, and by that the they passed a law to accept it, and then someone challenged it in their Supreme Court, and so they expect that ruling any week now. So that’s their big topic now, and if it is allowed, then it can open some doors.”

When you go to these other countries, developing these markets, opening these markets often just really comes down to establishing relationships, does it not?

“It is with these folks, it can’t be what we would describe as transactional. You’ve got to build the relationships so that the people develop trust that we would be a reliable supplier. You know, over the last what, four or five decades, we’ve had the embargoes from time to time for other reasons. So we want to be seen as a reliable supplier, good times and bad good quality, consumer quality, we have any issue with that. So yes, it’s about building relationships, and that’s why we were there to do just that. We did not get to visit with the Minister of Agriculture. There was some issues going on that drew him away. But we got to visit with some pretty significant decision makers that hopefully will carry the message that we were there to deliver.”