An exploratory analysis of measures to make trade facilitation work for inclusive regional agro-food value chains in West Africa

Published: August 18, 2017
An exploratory analysis of measures to make trade facilitation work for inclusive regional agro-food value chains in West Africa

Authors: Torres, C., Seters, J. van, Karaki, K., Kpadonou, R. 2017. An exploratory analysis of measures to make trade facilitation work for inclusive regional agro-food value chains in West Africa. (Discussion Paper 214). Maastricht: ECDPM.

Spurred by growing populations, increasing purchasing power and rapid urbanisation, demand for food in West Africa is growing rapidly, and the composition of this demand is changing. West Africa is increasingly importing food from outside the region, as the region faces a huge challenge in attempting to meet food demand through regional production and trade. Intra-regional food trade is mainly informal and generally considered to be well below its potential. In this context, the region and its member states seek to support the development of regional agro-food value chains and to improve the functioning of the regional market. This transpires from policy frameworks such as the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP), the UEMOA Agricultural Policy (PAU) and the West African Common Industrial Policy (WACIP).

This study seeks to contribute to reflections and actions in this area, by looking at how corridor initiatives focused on trade facilitation could be made more ‘transformative’ by combining them with other developmental measures, in this paper referred to as “accompanying measures”. It focuses on the examples of the rice and livestock (cattle and small ruminants) value chains and takes political economy dimensions into account. Geographically, the study focuses on a particular subregion within West Africa, comprising the “Central Basin” and Senegal and Nigeria.


Key messages


  • In West Africa, better performing regional agro-food value chains are seen as crucial for meeting growing demand for food and for contributing to inclusive economic growth, employment creation, poverty reduction and enhanced food and nutrition security.
  • Promoting regional agro-food value chains, however, requires coordination between different policy areas, not least between agriculture, trade, private sector development and infrastructure development.
  • Corridor initiatives, which are crucial for connecting Sahelian countries to global markets, could be more ‘transformative’ and supportive of regional agro-food value chains if they combined trade facilitation and infrastructure development with ‘accompanying measures’.
  • For example, West Africa’s rice and livestock value chains would benefit from measures to ensure: better road linkages to production areas; a strategic knowledge and communication agenda; effective public-private cooperation; and a more conducive trade policy environment.

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