One hundred West African cereals producers, traders, and other stakeholders will converge on Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, July 27-28, for the fourth regional cereals exchange. These forums— hosted by the Trade Hub, Afrique Verte and the West African Grain Network—bring together buyers and sellers from across the region to identify new business linkages and other partnerships, negotiate and sign contracts, and learn about recent innovations and best practices in the cereals sector. Since the first exchange in July 2015, these events have generated $3.5 million in executed contracts for 8,460 metric tons of grain, boosting regional trade and food security.
The exchanges are attracting high-level attention. At the cereals exchange in Dakar, Senegal in March, the Trade Hub presented the forum model to the Food Security Reserve Director of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). For the Abidjan cereals exchange, 10 Ivorian government agencies have already expressed interest in attending, including Ministries of Commerce and Agriculture, as well as the Agence Nationale d’Appui au Developpement Rural (ANADER).
Following each exchange, Afrique Verte conducts follow-up with all participants to ensure they execute the contracts they have signed, which builds trust among participants even as they cope with changing realities on the ground, said the Trade Hub’s Bill Noble. “Many of the contracts were, in effect, ‘re-signed’ by the same actors in subsequent exchanges who were not able to execute a contract from a previous contract or re-negotiated the amount being traded,” Noble said. “Probably 75% of the participants coming to Abidjan have participated in previous exchanges. We want that—it is only by providing multiple opportunities to conduct business that these relationships will grow on their own.”