The same barriers that plague intra- regional trade in commodities and seeds, apply to the fertiliser value chain.
These include fragmented markets, high transport costs, expensive financing and limited private sector involvement which cannot be solved on a country by country basis.
It is for these reason that the USAID Regional Mission Director, Alexandre Deprez, lauded stakeholders at the 1st Annual West Africa fertiliser Stakeholders? Forum for tackling problems as a region rather than as a collection of individual countries solving fertiliser and food security problems.
He said the United States supports efforts to improve food security, which includes removing constraints that limit competitiveness of the fertiliser sector.
Mr. Deprez said since the United States works in close partnership with ECOWAS, regional institutions, and national governments in West Africa, they work hard to ensure that the US government strategy for food security, Feed the Future, is aligned to ECOWAS? strategy and supports the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Plan (CAADP).
He expressed the hope that West Africa is making strides in creating policy environments that are business-friendly, and that more and more there is consensus that private sector involvement is not only healthy but the best way to create a sustainable value chain and more employment in the long-run.
The USAID Regional Mission Director made these remarks as part of his closing remarks at the two-day event that took place in Accra last week.
The stakeholders of the 1st Annual West Africa fertiliser Stakeholders? Forum, held in Accra resolved to set up a regional trade association to increase agricultural productivity through increased availability of fertiliser.
The idea of forming a West African Trade Association was presented by ECOWAS in December 2010 during the West Africa Seed Alliance evaluation meeting in Cotonou, Benin.
Mr. Deprez urged the participants to build on the momentum of the Forum and work together to address these problems as a region. He urged country representatives to do their part in implementing the ECOWAS Regional Fertiliser Regulation to step up and make harmonisation a reality.
?If every country does its part, then fertiliser will flow more freely between countries and farmers will have better access to high quality, affordable fertiliser,? he added.
None of the issues identified during the forum are new or intractable, he observed. ?They are complex and require a degree of partnership and perseverance to appropriately address them.?
By Konrad Kodjo Djaisi