Niger’s delegation, delayed by robbers and severe road harassment, arrived late to the Salon International Bétail-Viande de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (SIBVAO) 2016, West Africa’s first livestock trade show. The 44-member delegation arrived on Saturday in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, having shepherded more than 1,000 heads of livestock across the region, instantly doubling the number of animals to be showcased. Their entrance galvanized discussion of barriers facing livestock traders and gave new energy to the five-day show, sponsored by Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Animal and Fishery Resources and supported by USAID and the Confédération des Fédérations Nationales de la Filière Bétail/Viande (COFENABVI-AO), West Africa’s livestock association.
Chaired by the Ivorian Prime Minister, Mr. Kablan Duncan, the opening ceremony drew more than 300 participants, including high-level representatives of international and regional organizations, and members of the diplomatic corps from Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. They attended lively educational panels and participated in B2B exchanges designed to invigorate trade between Sahelian livestock producers and coastal consumers.
“The U.S. government, through projects like the West Africa Trade and Investment Hub, partners with COFENABVI-AO and its national member federations to improve the quantity and quality of locally grown and traded animals and meat,” said Mr. Andrew Haviland, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S Embassy in Côte d’Ivoire. “Better quality, regionally produced meat for growing market demand is the driving force behind this Salon.”
Attendees saluted the SIBVAO initiative for building knowledge and capacity of the sector as it prepares for its biggest trading period, just before Aid al-Adha or Tabaski, when households sacrifice livestock.
“The presence of so many members of West African livestock federations showed the importance given to the development of the sector. COFENABVI-AO draws its strength from the federations. It is thus important that all federations work in synergy to make our sector sustainable and profitable.”
— Mr. Sawadogo Timbila, COFENABVI-AO’s permanent secretary.
Three panels, coordinated by Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Animal and Fishery Resources and moderated by the Trade Hub, plumbed three major constraints—and opportunities—within the regional livestock trade: access to finance, capacity building, and international cooperation. On the first panel, the Trade Hub’s Jean-Francois Guay explained that the lack of structured and formalized trade practices slows down financing prospects in the short term, and discourages financial institutions from awarding bank loans.
“The banks should not teach you how to manage your industry—you should show them how your sector works,” said the Trade Hub’s Charles Adegnadjou. “This will be possible only if the livestock value chain is professionalized and structured.”
Livestock’s biggest trade barrier remains road harassment at border crossings, which delays delivery and increases financial losses when animals die during the journey. One panelist recommended setting up COFENABVI staff offices at the border to encourage reporting of harassment.
The last panel addressed pastoralism and transhumance, generating animated reactions from the audience. Movement of millions of animals from Sahelian to coastal countries each year raises social, economic and ecological issues. Sometimes these lead to violent conflicts between farmers and pastoralists, such as earlier this year in Bouna in northeast Côte d’Ivoire.
Niger’s Dr. Abouba Saidou, Deputy General Secretary of the Ministry of Livestock, said his government has developed a legislative framework to protect agricultural areas and avoid conflicts between farmers and breeders, which he offered as a model for other countries:
“It started by acknowledgement of shepherds’ rights.”
Niger also contributed significantly to discussion of best practices in livestock production, export and transformation. The country also expressed interest in hosting next year’s SIBVAO.