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APO International

Using data to improve agri-food trade in West Africa

todayApril 3, 2024 5

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Powerful data tools can reveal which crops and foods have the most export potential for trade within the region. These tools can also show how foods fit into value chains. That was the focus of a five-day workshop that aimed to strengthen food trade in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The workshop brought together ECOWAS Commission staff, national statistical offices, trade promotion organizations, and regional research institutes from across the ECOWAS region. Using data analysis, strategic planning, and collaborative engagement, the workshop’s goal was to enhance how agri-food policies and services are managed.

The event ran 4-8 March in the Nigerian capital Abuja, within the framework of the ECOWAS Agricultural Trade (EAT) programme. The event aimed to shed light on export potential and value chain methodologies, with a specific focus on intra-regional trade in the agri-food sector.

Participants learned to navigate agri-food trade data, specifically on priority products targeted by the EAT programme: cassava, corn, rice, tomatoes, pineapple and onions.

Dominic Odoom from the Ghana Statistical Services lauded the tangible impact of the training. He said the tools enabled him to better analyze the export potential of key Ghanaian commodities.

Oluwanikemi Aimola from the National Bureau of Statistics of Nigeria emphasized the importance of understanding both realized trade and untapped export potential of agricultural products and their value chains.

‘This information is pivotal for driving and nurturing MSME growth within the country and the region,’ she said.

Utilizing ITC tools such as Trade Map and Export Potential Map, participants engaged in practical activities and interactive sessions to develop strategies for advancing agri-food value chains. Both tools are free of charge for users in developing countries.

Throughout the intensive workshop, participants collaborated to chart a course towards a more sustainable and prosperous future. Their dedication and insights set the stage for meaningful progress in agri-food trade within ECOWAS.

Thanks to the support of the West Africa Association for Cross-Border Trade (WACTAF), the workshop complemented official trade statistics with information available on informal cross border trade provided by the ECOWAS Informal Cross Border Trade database.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Trade Centre.

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