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25 - 27 June 2024, Landmark Centre, Lagos, Nigeria

Unearthing the Potential: West Africa’s Agricultural Market Access Opportunities

With a focus on boosting productivity, enhancing competitiveness, and expanding market access for small-scale farmers, West Africa is set to unlock a new era of growth and sustainability in agriculture.

The Current Landscape:

Recent trends have seen many West African countries increasingly turn to food imports to satisfy the demands of their burgeoning urban markets. This reliance on external sources underscores a critical gap in local production capabilities and market access. However, it also highlights a significant opportunity: the potential for local agricultural growth is immense.

Intra-regional Trade: A Key to Resilience:

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) plays an important role in this agricultural renaissance. By strengthening agricultural trade within the region, ECOWAS is not merely enhancing economic stability but also exploring substantial market opportunities. This regional approach could be a game-changer, offering a buffer against global market shocks and fostering a more self-reliant agricultural landscape.

Challenges and Opportunities:

Despite the fertile ground for growth, the path is not without its hurdles. The World Trade Organization’s negotiations on agriculture, encompassing market access and other critical issues, are a testament to the complex tapestry of global trade relations impacting the region. Moreover, the agricultural sector continues to grapple with challenges such as low irrigation development and limited technological advancement.

The Role of AgTech:

In this context, the role of AgTech companies cannot be overstated. These entities are at the forefront of driving innovation and scalability in agriculture across Africa. By harnessing technology, they are addressing key challenges and unlocking new avenues for growth and efficiency.

Transforming Food Systems:

The rapid urbanization in West Africa is a double-edged sword. While it presents challenges in terms of food supply and market dynamics, it also offers an opportunity to transform the food systems. A strong, locally-driven agricultural sector can be the cornerstone of this transformation, ensuring food security and economic prosperity.

As West Africa stands at this crossroads, the future holds both promise and challenges. The region’s agricultural sector has the potential to be a powerhouse of productivity and sustainability. With strategic focus on market access, regional trade, and technological innovation, West Africa can not only meet its own food demands but also emerge as a key player in the global agricultural arena.

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