The African Countries and Ukraine Partnership in Agriculture: Unleashing the Potential for Cooperation with Western African Countries

27 June 2024

On March 21, 2024, the Center for Food and Land Use Research of the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE Agrocenter) organized the seminar «The African Countries and Ukraine Partnership in Agriculture: Unleashing the Potential for Cooperation with West African Countries».

At the beginning of the seminar, Dr. Mariia Bogonos, head of KSE Agrocenter, welcomed the guests and summarized the results of the first two seminars devoted to cooperation between Ukraine and African countries in agriculture. Food trade between the two regions has significant potential, but is currently hampered by logistical barriers and non-tariff restrictions. In addition, the cooperation can develop through technology transfer and infrastructure development.

Dr. Pavlo Martyshev, researcher in KSE Agrocenter, provided the overview of Ukrainian agriculture and potential for cooperation with West African countries.

Main points:

• Globally, Ukraine’s agri-food sector plays significant and growing role in ensuring global food security. In terms of grains exports, its contribution to global food security was equivalent to feeding about 332 mln. people in 2021 (in addition to its own population), which is comparable to current US population.

• In 2021, Ukraine exported 13 million tons of agricultural commodities with $3.8 billion to 52 African states. The share of West Africa was less than 1%.

• Ukraine’s agri-food exports to the West Africa is not much diversified and based mostly on cereals and vegetable oils. Meanwhile, West African countries export to Ukraine cocoa beans, coffee and tea, fruits and nuts. Ukraine’s agri-food imports from the West Africa exceed exports.

• Ukraine could expand own presence on the West African food market; Ukrainian agricultural production will recover in the nearest years amidst favorable natural conditions, fast-growing agri-tech sector, high competitiveness on the global market, and other factors.

• Cooperation options in agriculture between Ukraine and West Africa could be developed within three main streams: a) facilitation of agri-food exports to West Africa (especially for grains, vegetable oils, poultry meat, seeds, processed food products, specialized nutritious foods); b) infrastructural projects (silos, cold storage capacities, irrigation systems); c) development of extension services in agriculture.

Prof. Abiodun Bankole from Economics Department of University of Ibadan, Nigeria, presented the state of Nigerian agriculture.

Main points:

• Agriculture accounts for a significant share of the Nigerian economy; over the past decade, the sector accounted for 25% of GDP and 38% of the workforce.

• About 90% of the value of agricultural output is crop production, the share of livestock production is about 7%.

• The development of the national crude oil sector stimulated the outflow of resources from the less profitable agricultural sector, and also negatively affected the competitiveness of agricultural exports due to the Dutch disease effect (strong appreciation of the national currency due to the exports of natural resources).

• Subsistence farming dominates in the country: 80% of farmers are small, 90% of land is in the hands of small farmers.

• Nigeria is a net food importer. Imports consist mainly of wheat, sugar, fish, and dairy products. At the same time, the main export products are sesame, cashew nuts, cocoa beans, and cotton.

• Nigeria’s current agricultural policy is aimed at supporting food self-sufficiency, creating jobs and diversifying the economy. The production of cassava, rice, sorghum, cotton and cocoa is actively supported.

• Herders often graze cattle in the fields of other farmers, which creates conflict. The government is trying to solve this problem by imposing territorial restrictions on livestock grazing.

Dr. Yaw Osei-Asare from Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Department, University of Ghana, described challenges and opportunities for agri-food sector in this country.

Main points:

• Ghana’s economy is highly dependent on agriculture, which accounts for 21% of GDP.

• The main problem of the local agricultural sector is poor productivity. Farmers have insufficient access to high-quality hybrid seeds, agrochemicals, fertilizers, and financial resources. In addition, agriculture is highly dependent on rains; only 3% of land is irrigated.

• Intensification of agricultural production leads to reduction of forests, loss of biodiversity, and significant GHG emissions.

• The bottleneck in the local food system is logistics and warehouse infrastructure. As a result, the share of product losses reached 20% in 2021.

• The difference between the farm-gate and exporting prices was around 170% of the farm-gate prices over the last years. The main reasons for that are: a) the lack of storage facilities and immediate selling after harvest; b) huge transportations costs, especially in the rainy seasons; c) the market power of traders based on their monopoly in providing finance for farmers.

• The country remains highly dependent on imports of basic foodstuffs such as rice, wheat, chicken, soybeans, and tomatoes.

• The development of food processing is held back by non-compliance with product safety practices, the spread of food-borne diseases, bacterial contamination of products, and non-compliance with hygiene standards during product packaging. This problem is exacerbated by food fraud and excessive chemicalization of products, weak legislative regulation in the field of food safety.

• Inequality in diet and income between poor rural areas in the north of the country and urban areas in the south is increasing.

Dr. FE Doukouré Charles from Educational and Teaching Department, ENSEA, Côte d’Ivoire, described the main challenges in local agricultural sector.

Main points:

• Agriculture in Côte d’Ivoire specializes in crop production. The main local crops are corn, rice, yam, cassava, and bananas.

• The local food sector is highly dependent on imports of grain, sugar, and alcohol.

• The main challenge for farmers is climate change patterns reflected in severe droughts and excessive rainfalls.

• Underdeveloped agricultural infrastructure leads to market instability and a decrease in farmers’

• Food security in the country can be strengthened by increasing production productivity, diversifying crop structure, and strengthening local communities.

In general, the results of the seminar showed the problems and prospects of agriculture in West Africa, as well as ways for possible cooperation with Ukraine.