LOOKING AHEAD: AGRICULTURE SECTOR

There are a lot of opportunities to digest when we talk about the ways that RVA can use its history to create new visions of growth beyond 2019. Speaking of digestion, from a team who calls RVA home, it is impossible to talk about why we love our City and its diversity without talking about Food. Drawing from African, Caribbean, Native American, European traditions, RVA's food culture is unparalleled. And over the past several years, it is finally getting the national acclaim it rightfully deserves. RVA has earned the following titles for its food scene:

  • Richmond earned a place among 8 "Under-the-Radar Foodie Cities" by Huffington Post, September 2014.
  • Richmond named a "top destination" for food travel in 2016 by National Geographic.
  • Top 30 "Best Foodie Cities in America." In the same study:
  • 6th in the US for most restaurants per capita
  • 3rd in number of grocery storess per capita
  • 6th for number of ice cream shops and frozen yogurt shops per capita
  • For those who partake: 1st in number of craft breweries and wineries per capita

RVA's food scene continues to expand in ways that reflect RVA's cultural diversity. RVA's growing food and beverage sector also contributes to the surrounding region's agriculture sector.  Agriculture is Virginia's largest private industry, employing over 334,000 people and generating an impact of $70 billion per year. Virginia's peanuts, apples, tomatoes, and poultry sector all rank in the top 10 statewide sectors. RVA's biotech sector has played a critical role in producing the healthiest in the most environmentally sustainable way possible. These 

RV-9 Connection:

After 2010, the Virginia Department of Agriculture signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Agriculture of Benin, which allegedly called for RVA providing technical expertise to Benin's booming cashew sector. Cashews and related nuts are Benin's largest agricultural export.  In fact, groundnut exports from RV9 countries exceed $1 billion annually. Imagine if RVA's biotech sector took advantage of this opportunity. There are nearly 40 million people across RV9 countries working in the agriculture sector, 10x larger than VA's agriculture sector and almost 50% of the RV9Group's entire labor force. As mentioned above, this represents a multi-billion opportunity for not only Virginia but also for RVA.

RV-9 group: Agricultural Labor Force

Source: World Bank Group

RVA's biotech sector can build from the outstanding memoradum of understanding between Virginia's Department of Agriculture and Benin's Ministry of Agriculture to strengthen the region's billion-dollar groundnut export sector. But why focus on groundnuts?  Five of among Virginia's top food exports--apples, milk, tomatoes, poultry, and wheat--generate $1.2 billion for the VA's agriculture sector every year. RV-9 countries import approximately $1.2 billion worth of these products every year. #notradedeficitshere

Anyone want dessert? RV-9 countries export over $3.8 billion in cocoa products every year. RVA, through its growing innovation economy, biotech sector, and agricultural expertise, can help turn some of the world's largest cocoa production regions into the world's fastest chocolate and dessert markets. 

despite these strong growth opportunities, none of the rv-9 countries are among virginia's top 20 agriculural export markets.

 

 Virginia's agriculture sector could generate revenues for the state simply by accessing these untapped markets, while RVA's biotech sector benefits by gaining millions of new customers in some of the fastest-growing economies on the planet…all in ways that look like the diversity that has always been at the core of RVA identity. By feeding RVA's entrepreneurs, we create new opportunities for wealth creation in the 21st century economy. RVA's African history drives these strategies.

You hungry yet? Let's get to work.


Nuts - A Key Export for both Virginia and the RV-9 Group

Source: Observatory for Economic Complexity, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
 

Apples - A Key Export for both Virginia and the RV-9 Group

Source: Observatory for Economic Complexity, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

 
 

RV-9 markets for (Virginia?) poultry: >$300 million / year

Source: Observatory for Economic Complexity

RV-9 Markets for (Virginia?) Milk: >$500 million / year

Source: Observatory for Economic Complexity
 

RV-9 Markets for (Virginia?) wheat: >$500 million / year

Source: Observatory for Economic Complexity