Agricultural growth in West Africa: market and policy drivers
This report by the African Development Bank, ECOWAS and the Food and Agriculture Organization highlights opportunities for West African agricultural growth. The authors states that the combination of strong demand growth, sustained economic growth, higher global agricultural prices, and an improved policy environment has generated the most conducive conditions for agricultural growth in West Africa in over 30 years. The study contributes to a better understanding of the evolving context for growth in West Africa’s agrifood sector by: (1) examining the drivers and trends affecting the demand for and supply of agrifood products, (2) evaluating the performance of the agricultural sector and related policies in the light of those trends and (3) distilling the main implications for future policy priorities. The report stresses that while increasing agricultural yields is essential, more attention needs to be placed on the downstream segment of the agrifood system: assembly, storage, processing, wholesaling and retail. Improving the mix of public investments in agriculture in the region is as important as increasing their level, the report finds. It encourages governments to shift spending towards public goods such as roads, reliable electricity supply, research and schooling rather than towards subsidizing private goods such as fertilizer and tractors.