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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Unleashing the potential of the agro-industry

The report also highlights how the Ebola crisis continues to affect the region, while finding that the economic effect of Ebola outside the three most affected countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia) are so far limited. The report reviews recent developments in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo.  These countries present a largely positive growth perspective, even if faced with concerns over issues such as rising debt, security and political risk, and commodity dependence. The report highlights the role of agriculture, which employs 60% of the active population and generates one third of the region’s GDP, and more particularly of agri-business, the potential of which is still untapped.

The report highlights the vital importance of public policies to support agribusiness, and shows how countries’ efforts to put private sector led agricultural transformation at the core of their development strategy are paying off.  It cites the example of Nigeria’s Agriculture Transformation Agenda, which has attracted over 5 Billion USD of private investments in the past 3 years, and slashed the country’s food import bill from nearly 7 Billion USD in 2009 to 4.3 Billion USD in 2013. The report offers a number of recommendations for policy makers to unleash the potential of the agribusiness sector. These include promoting innovation and broadening access to finance, developing strategies which emphasize the role of agricultural smallholders and small entrepreneurs, establishing agriculture value capture programs and business linkages, and improving access to information on agro-industrial production.