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Published on 12/10/2018

The agrifood business landscape in West Africa

In its biannual journal, Grain de sel N° 75 July-August 2018, Inter-réseaux Développement rural (in French) published L’aval des filières vivrières, une opportunité pour les agricultures familiales en Afrique de l’Ouest ? (in French), an article (in French only, partly translated below) devoted to the agrifood business landscape in West Africa, written by Cécile Broutin and Martine François, agrifood value chain experts with GRET.

In West Africa, development of the agrifood business would make it possible to respond to the dual challenge of supplying urban markets and creating income and employment. What are the characteristics and constraints in the sector? Can it play a pivotal role for family farming (access to the market and increase of local added value)?

Micro-businesses play a central role in supplying cities by targeting mass markets. They are characterised by their small size (individual or family activities, 1 to 2 people), by the implementation of simple procedures inspired by culinary know-how often passed down from mothers to daughters. Sales are made directly, in bulk, in the street and at markets selling dry and wet products (ready-to-eat). Micro-businesses call on artisan service providers for mechanical operations (workshops for threshing, milling, grating, squeezing, etc.). There are many such workshops in urban and rural reas, and they make up a mainly masculine sector of activity. Products marketed are often produced locally and highly varied:  local sorghum, maize and rice (threshed grain, semolina, flours, couscous, beers, etc.), roots and tubers (semolina, flours, sticks, cassava chips, etc.), smoked and/or dried fish and meat, unrefined groundnut or palm oil, fermented milk, butter, dried cheese, traditional fruit juices, etc. Some foods are made with imported products such as artisan bread in rural areas and fritters (made with wheat) or set milk (made from powdered milk).

Read the full article (in French)