Sunday, 25 August 2019

Getting policies right: priorities for the transformation of the staple food chains in West Africa

The essential players in agrifood value chains can be grouped into four broad categories (or market
 agencies): (i) public agencies; (ii) agro-industry (input suppliers, processors); (iii) financial institutions; and (iv) producers and their organizations. Each of these players plays a critical and well-defined role within the agrifood system.The role of the public sector is to provide the catalytic interventions required to create the enabling environment and the right policy setting. However, the full development of staple food value chains rests primarily on the private agribusiness players, including those of small- and medium-scale, who contribute to market creation, innovation and enhancement of quality standards. A dynamic agro-industry also depends on well-functioning credit institutions that forge commercial partnerships with processors, input suppliers and producers, contributing to funding as well as financial training and capacity building. Finally, no value chain can thrive without the producers and their organizations – the necessary market agency that can contribute to more dynamic and inclusive value chain development.

The public sector supports the food value chain development by setting the overall policy environment guided by broad strategic objectives – namely, food security, poverty reduction and growth. The public sector aims to create the enabling environment for business (security, legal frameworks, infrastructure, research and development), and to support smallholder-inclusive market participation. In the context of food value chain transformation, the priorities for policy support include the following: (i) fostering private input markets and providing incentives for their uptake by farmers; (ii) supporting dissemination and transfer of information, including market signals to stimulate exchange and to improve quality and value; (iii) increasing high-impact investments targeting the development and transfer of technologies, promoting private sector participation, reducing investment risks and promoting public-private partnerships; (iv) equalizing the market opportunities for domestic producers vis-a-vis competing imports and harmonizing trade policies with domestic support measures; (v) promoting schemes to encourage greater engagement and developing stronger linkages between producers and buyers; and (vi) strengthening the capacity of small farmers and their organizations to expand market participation.
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