Agricultural growth in West Africa: market and policy drivers

West Africa has unprecedented opportunities for agricultural growth, but making the most of them will require more effective regional integration, says a new report by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). To be competitive with large global actors, West African agriculture needs to capture some of the economies of scale that those countries enjoy in the markets for fertilizers and seeds as well as in agricultural research and technology development, adds the report. While important progress towards regional integration has been made over the past two decades, effective implementation at national level has remained a challenge, as evidenced by roadblocks and trade bans hindering intraregional trade, along with continued use of disparate national standards for seeds and fertilizers despite regionally agreed-upon common protocols. The report, "Agricultural Growth in West Africa: Market and Policy Drivers" (AGWA), comes at a time of great dynamism in the patterns of food demand in Africa. West Africa's population, now 300 million, is expected to grow to 490 million by 2030. The subregion is already the most urbanized part of Sub-Saharan Africa, with nearly half the population living in urban centres, and the urban population is projected to continue to grow at a rate of 3.8 percent per year between 2015 and 2030.