Food value chain
Economic growth - and its corollary employment - is a constant of many West African public policies and most international strategies for the region. How to find jobs for millions of unemployed youth? How to make the local economy more attractive than migration? How to give hope to young people who maybe be tempted by crime? How to develop a more inclusive and less volatile economy than one that is based on the exportation of oil, gas, minerals and raw agricultural products? These issues are addressed by sector (primary, secondary, tertiary) and by segment (rural/urban areas, informal/formal sector). The most common approach is to prioritise agriculture (which is often wrongly considered to be equal to the whole rural zone). A more systemic analysis shows that the food economy - rural and urban, primary, secondary and tertiary, formal and informal - is much larger than the agricultural economy alone and has the potential to create more growth and more jobs. Since it focuses on the domestic market, which has a high growth rate, it is not as volatile and should be the keystone of economic policies. Cross‑cutting and multi-sectoral strategies are needed to enhance the food economy’s potential. These strategies should be based, first and foremost, on the needs of stakeholders and West African professional organisations.