In Cote d’Ivoire’s commercial capital, 115 West African stakeholders (including 39 women) from nine countries participated in the fourth cereals exchange organized by the Trade Hub in collaboration with Afrique Verte and the West African Grain Network (WAGN). The July 26-27 event in Abidjan offered a platform for producers and traders to negotiate costs, quantities, quality, and transportation of their products. Ultimately, they signed 104 contracts to trade a proposed 93,422 metric tons of agricultural products, primarily cereals.
As with previous exchanges, final executed contracts will reflect different volumes, particularly as many deals are connected to the upcoming harvest. However, the Trade Hub’s Bill Noble said the number of signed contracts—double the average of the previous three exchanges in Senegal and Burkina Faso—underscored an exciting trade dynamic. Nearly 100 percent of confirmed participants attended, and Afrique Verte, which tracks the deals, began receiving offers to buy and sell a full month before the exchange.
During the two-day event, participants—hailing from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo—expressed satisfaction in the model that helps formalize the sector while building their capacity in best contracting methods.
“We were used to working without contracts, but thanks to this type of workshop, we will be able to include in the management of our businesses the implementation and the effectiveness of the contracts signed,” said Mrs. Alimata Coulibaly, director of Les Précuits GLP of Cote d’Ivoire. “I was happy to find a demand for my products.”
High-level officials attending—including U.S. Ambassador in Cote d’Ivoire, H.E. Terence McCulley, Mr. Kebe Kante and Mr. Apporture Kouakou, representing the Ivorian Ministers of Commerce and Agriculture respectively—said they appreciated the dynamic negotiations and the attendance of a high number of women in expanding formalization of regional trade.
Mr. Alex Deprez, USAID/West Africa mission director, specifically congratulated a deal between two Senegalese producers—Mme. Nafissatou Diagne, President of the Plateforme des Organisations Professionnelles de l’Agrolimentaire du Senegal (POPAS) and Mme. Aissatou Dem—who signed a contract for 678 metric tons of cereals. Meanwhile, Mr. Kouakou assured participants of the support of the Ivorian government for the commercialization of agricultural products in West Africa.
During negotiations, participants also discussed regional challenges, such as road harassment, that limit expansion of the cereals sector by imposing additional costs on producers. Participants stressed the importance of tracking irregularities and implementing laws.
“Clear regulations would be an asset to make our landlocked countries sustainable, and develop win-win partnerships,” said Mme. Oumou Sissoko Diallo, a processor from Mali.
In the coming months, Afrique Verte and WAGN will follow up with the different companies to complete the transactions initiated through the contracts signed in Abidjan. Previous exchanges in Senegal and Burkina Faso have so far generated $4.5 million in trade of cereals and agricultural products.