Challenges and Opportunities for Strategic Agricultural Commodity Value chain Development in the IGAD Region : a Policy Brief

Challenges and Opportunities for Strategic Agricultural Commodity Value chain Development in the IGAD Region


A policy brief

Emerging evidences revealed that the agricultural sector offers huge potentials that African countries can exploit (based on comparative advantage) not only to fast track improved livelihoods and economic development but also enhance cooperation, collaboration and partnership. The agricultural landscape in the continent is inundated by small holders with limited means and associated high transaction costs- sector highly inefficient with uncompetitive products quality and prices. This scenario profoundly hampers the ability of Africa agriculture to furnish accelerated economic growth and rural in the continent.

As part of its mandate in conducting research aimed at achieving growth and transformation for shared prosperity and improved livelihood, through sustained agricultural growth, the AU-SAFGRAD office conducted the study on commodity value chain analysis. The study was aimed at identifying stakeholders along the strategic commodity supply chain, whose action affect the smooth functioning and impact on the transaction costs of commodities This initial study on challenges and opportunities for strategic agricultural commodities value chain development was conducted in the IGAD region of Africa.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region is a Regional Economic Community (REC) - one of the eight building blocks of the African Economic Community. A characteristic feature of the region is that most of it is classified as arid and semi-arid lands. The region is also endowed with vast, unexploited, fertile land and water bodies that can sustain intensive agriculture. Unfortunately, undeveloped commodity value chain coupled with a host of infrastructural and policy related constraints have been greatly limited progress in efficient cross border trade and investment in agriculture. Both cash and food crops are produced in the region. Common food crops include cereals, pulses, tubers and oilseeds, while cash crops are coffee, tea, tobacco and cotton. Livestock herding is dominant agricultural system in Djibouti and Somalia representing 50% and 76.9% of total agricultural production respectively. Sesame and sorghum were selected as case study commodities. The criteria used in their selection were their relative importance as household food security crop and export potentials in the semi-arid parts of the region.


Sudan and Ethiopia were found to be major producers and consumers of sorghum. Production of sorghum in the region is mainly in rain fed farms with little or no use of purchased inputs. The sorghum value chain includes, seed suppliers, farmers, collectors, wholesalers, exporters, millers and retailers. Also, Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda are major producers of sesame in the region. Sesame production is largely on rain fed fields cultivated on small and, often dispersed farm lands. Marketing of sesame was found to be largely underdeveloped and inefficient. Major Sesame chain actors were farmers, assemblers, wholesalers, processors and retailers.

At the country level, the inefficiencies in the commodities value chain were mainly due to lack of standardization, poor quality of harvest, lack of market support services, bad roads infrastructure as well as the sharp practices of public agents. These resulted to high transaction costs in the downstream commodity sector. At the cross-border trade level, high inefficiency was occasioned by mainly non-tariff barriers occasioned by delays, excesses of border agents and high transport costs.


The study concludes that increased sorghum and sesame chain efficiency coupled with the conducive climatic condition, the massive pool of farm families involved in production and marketing as well as the market demand in the region present huge opportunities to fast track improved livelihoods, economic growth and partnership in the region. The creation of an enabling production and marketing environment at the national level, to leverage on public private partnership models, while also encouraging opportunities for increased value addition services by primary actors are needed to catalyze the benefits.


However, to achieve this landmark, some key challenges have to be overcome. There is the need to address information gaps at all levels in the value chain, encourage public private partnership through incentivized schemes and infrastructural development. To promote collaboration and cooperation in the region through trade in the agricultural commodities, the study recommends the inauguration of a high level technical advisory group to be facilitated by IGAD secretariat. The group will be responsible for charting the road map for the institutionalization and implementation of integrated commodities value chain considered key for ensuring food security and enhancing regional trade.

The Policy Brief in pdf


AUC Commissioner of Rural Economy and Agriculture, HE Tumusiime discusses agricultural development with AGRA president



Commissioner Tumusiime discusses agricultural development with AGRA president


Addis Ababa, 03, February 2015 – The Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Mrs. Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, on 2nd February 2015, received Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), to discuss and agree on areas of cooperation in implementing the AU Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Africa Agriculture Growth and Transformation as well as other areas of agricultural development.


The discussions were guided by the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding existing between AGRA and DREA, the Implementation Strategy and Roadmap for the Malabo Declaration, as well as the Strategic Plans for the two organisations (AUC/DREA 2014-2017 and AGRA 2015-2020).


Commissioner Tumusiime, welcoming Dr. Kalibata and her delegation, said it was time to focus on strategic areas that would yield the most practical impact and results in agricultural development.


Dr. Kalibata concurred with the Commissioner and expressed AGRA’s wish to contribute towards rolling out the Malabo Declaration and noted that AGRA was in the process of refocusing and aligning their activities with that of the AU Declaration on Agriculture.


During the discussions, they agreed on how to coordinate efforts better towards an expedient implementation of collaborative activities, as laid out in the 2013 MoU by strengthening the working relationship between the two organizations, particularly in the fields of agriculture, food security as well as environment and natural resources.


The meeting further agreed to set up a team that will work together in elaborating priority areas for cooperation and partnership for 2015-2017 and an implementation plan for 2015.


The meeting was also attended by Dr. Abebe Haile Gabriel, Director, Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture and other staff from both the department and AGRA.



For further information:

Mr. Maurice Lorka

CAADP advisor

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Ms. Carol Jilombo

DREA communications

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AU SAFGRAD to attend the Great Green Wall for Sahara and Sahel Initiative Steering Committee in Dakar, Senegal

The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative is held its second Regional Steering Committee in Dakar, Senegal

The Regional Steering Committee of the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI) held its second meeting from 10 to 12 November 2014 in Dakar, Senegal. 

The objective of the two-day meeting is to make an inclusive stocktaking of the implementation, evaluate the achievements and explore the way forward in order to ameliorate the progress in the implementation of the GGWSSI. 

Participants are coming from national and international organizations including AUC, NEPAD, FAO, UNCCD, World Bank, ICRAF, SOS SAHEL, ENDA etc.

Also attending the meeting various national focal points coming from countries involved in the initiative among which Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Mali, Niger, and Senegal. AU SAFGRAD Office is represented by two senior officers namely : Mr. KOUTOU Mamadou, Programme Officer and Mr. MBENGUE Youssoupha, Information and Outreach Officer.

In his welcome remarks, Mr. Elvis Paul TANGEM, GGWSSI Coordinator, thanked the government of Senegal for accepting to hold this meeting. “We are very grateful of the Republic of Senegal because this meeting was previously scheduled to take place in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso but finally moved to Dakar, Senegal, in a very short notice, due to the Burkinabe current political situation” he stated. He also extended his appreciation to all the organisations that are contributing to the activities of the initiative, namely EU Delegation to the AU, FAO, Global mechanism of UNCCD, the World Bank, OSS and representatives of civil society and local communities. In his part, Mr. Almamy DAMPHA, also from AUC, has explained the context as well as expected outcomes of this meeting.


Chairing the opening ceremony, Mrs Ramatoulaye DIENG NDIAYE, Permanent Secretary of Senegalese Ministry of Environment, has in her opening remarks thanked the African Union Commission for selecting Senegal, “the Country of Hospitality”, to host this important meeting. She highlighted the importance of the GGWSSI notably its interest for the concerned countries that are challenging desertification and climate change. “We think that the outcomes of this Steering Committee will substantively increase the coordination mechanisms of this initiative between countries”, she added.


It is expected that the participants will discuss during two days the terms of reference and membership of the Regional Steering Committee (RSC); the Status of implementation of the GGWSSI; the way forward for enhancing the implementation initiative. The possible joint activities on capacity development and advocacy as well as the results framework will be also examined by the experts and members of the RSC.

The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative was endorsed in 2007 by African Union. This initiative is aiming at tackling the detrimental social, economic and environmental impacts of land degradation and desertification in the Sahel and the Sahara region. The initiative is seeking to improve food security and livelihood of the people, while contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation.





The AU-SAFGRAD was established in 1977 through Resolution 505 XXIX that was adopted by the Council of Ministers of the OAU; and, since 2003, AU-SAFGRAD is a specialized technical office of AUC-DREA. Moreover, through decisions taken by African Union Heads of States and Government in 2003 and 2011, AU-SAFGRAD is mandated: To lead, coordinate and facilitate the formulation of appropriate policies and programmes that would build resilience of rural livelihoods in semi-arid Africa through strengthening of institutional capacities aimed at advancing agricultural research, technology transfer and adoption; enhancement of value chains; management of natural resources; and mitigation and adaptation to climate change and combating desertification. In this regard, the office has since facilitated development of agricultural technologies as well as building national research capacities and building a knowledge base in Africa’s Semi-Arid Zones. In addition, AU-SAFGRAD has been designated as the institutional focal point for coordinating the Thematic Program Network for the Promotion of Sustainable Agricultural Farming Systems to Combat Desertification in Africa (TPN6). (The TPN6 was launched in 2004 within the framework of the African Regional Action Program of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)).  The global objective is to enhance efficiency of national, sub-regional and regional sustainable land management programs and agricultural farming systems through facilitation of knowledge sharing and utilization for scaling up/out of successful experiences.). The Commission of the African Union invites applicants who are citizens of Member States for Consultancy service/SAFGRAD Office in the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture for the following position:.


 Post title:        Consultant for preparing effective platform to provide the necessary guidance, and promote experience sharing and coordination among the existing African Centres of Excellence on Desertification.

Duty Station: The consultant will perform his/her work mainly from his/her country. He/She will be required to visit Burkina Faso to meet with the AU-SAFGRAD Coordinator and to travel to selected partners as may be requested.

Immediate Supervisor:    Coordinator, AU-SAFGRAD

2.Major duties and responsibilities (Scope of Work) :


  • Further responding to the specific and persistent challenge of desertification, the AU Assembly through Decision; Assembly/AU/Dec.492 ( XXII) of January 2014, requested the African Union Commission to rationalize and strengthen its specialized units, in particular the African Union- Semi-Arid Food Grains Research and Development ( AU-SAFGRAD) office and the Climate Change and Desertification Unit to serve as an effective platform to provide the necessary guidance, and promote experience sharing and coordination among the existing African Centres of Excellence on Desertification.



  • Report existing situation, opportunities and challenges including investments and financing opportunities and challenges to address desertification and land degradation impacts in semi-arid zone of Africa. ( Identify and categorize completed and current initiatives addressing the issues of desertification  and land degradation, and the stakeholders involved, both at national and global level ; Identify financing mechanisms that the countries in the region may access for the combating desertification)
  • Define the goal\s , structure, main components and the principle of the platform;
  • Develop governance and management guidelines;
  • Define the methodology that will be used.
  • Identify key stakeholder (institutions, agencies or individuals) willing to be active members of the Platform ensuring equitable geographical representation(Create a database of all the members of the platform with detailed contacts  and identify one or more focal person per institution for the platform). and their priorities in terms of experience and knowledge sharing and management
  • Animate discussions and exchanges between the members of the platform that will lead to the identification and development of at least one concrete project
  • Define the priorities of programmes/activities that could be tackled by the platform; as well as the available source of funds.
  • Identify the proper ways of facilitating interaction among different stakeholders(contacts, meetings, logistics as well as    the communication tools and networking of the platform);
  • Set the boundaries of the platform and prepare a platform manual
  • It might be the consultant will be required to visit some selected countries to meet with the relevant experts/institutions there.
  • If required, The consultant will present his study to the relevant stakeholder in the workshop organized by AU-SAFGRAD
  • The consultant will be responsible to facilitate the above mentioned workshop
  • Based on the above mentioned the consultant will finalize his study and submit to AU-SAFGRAD


2.b. Deliverables


i-          Available database of all members of the platform with relevant contacts details.

ii-         Effective and dynamic forum for members of the platform to communicate, exchange ideas and information.

iii-         At least one project document foreseeing concrete activities pertaining to the subject of the platform developed with the participation of all members.

v-         The platform manual.

vi-Any other requirements to have effective platform and to cover the above mentioned tasks.

The consultant will submit his report through the following steps:

  • Inception report: The consultant will prepare an inception report including the methodology of delivering the assignment and detailed work plan. The report should also highlight all logistic issues necessary for the exercise. The contents of the inception report will include: background, understanding of the ToRs, work plan and reporting.
  • Draft report: the consultant will submit a draft report for review by SAFGRAD team and other key stakeholders within and outside SAFGRAD. The report will be submitted in electronic copy.
  • Final report: After organizing the workshop and receiving comments on the draft report, the consultant will submit a final report including the relevant inputs from SAFGRAD and other stakeholders. Hard copies and an electronic copy of the final report will be submitted by the consultant


3. Educational Qualifications: Candidates must have a Master Degree or equivalent degree in land management and desertification, environmental science, Agriculture science, development economics,  Social Sciences fields, Economics, Law, International Relations, Computer Science or closely related discipline. A Ph.D.  Degree will be an added advantage. 


4. Work experience requirement: At least 10 years of experience in creating platforms ideally at the international level. Work experience within the theme of the platform is highly desirable.


5. Other relevant skills

  • Be able to connect the platform with scientific information on desertification and land degradation available from specialized national and international sources and be able to encourage all stakeholders to become active partners with the platform.
  • Fully Understanding of desertification in Africa;
  • Board awareness of the NARS, regional programs in agriculture and IARCs;
  • Working knowledge of policy analysis and development;
  • Management experience, excellent interpersonal skills and ability to organize and motivate others and to work in a multi-cultural environment;
  • Excellent report writing and presentation skills ;
  • Good communication and negotiating skills;
  • Good planning and organizational skills ;
  • Commitment to personal performance and self-development ;
  • Leading and managing change with integrity, trustworthiness and confidence;
  • Computer literacy.


6. Language requirement: Proficiency in one of the AU working languages. Knowledge of one other working languages would be an added advantage.


7. Age requirement: Candidates must preferably be not less than 35 years old.


8. Tenure of Appointment: The consultancy is planned for a maximum period of weeks

9. Gender Mainstreaming: The AU Commission is an equal opportunity employer and qualified women are strongly encouraged to apply.



10. Application: To apply, please submit the following:

  • A detailed and updated CV, indicating your nationality, age and gender;


11. Remuneration: The consultant will get a lumpsum -----------------------


12. The applications must be received not later than 15 July 2014 and should be addressed to:


01BP1783 Ouagadougou 01

Email ElMekassA @africa-union.org


Validation Workshop on the study on: “The support of the Promotion of Strategic Agricultural Commodities Value chain Development in the IGAD Region”

 Validation Workshop on the study on: “The support of the Promotion of Strategic Agricultural Commodities Value chain Development in the IGAD Region”

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. 11 Septembre 2014. A two day expert workshop for the validation of a study on “The support of the Promotion of Strategic Agricultural Commodities Value chain Development in the IGAD Region” has been closed this Thursday in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Opened one day before, the meeting organized by AU SAFGRAD gathered experts coming from various relevant international institutions and Representatives of IGAD Member States as well as African Union Commission (AUC). The overall objective of this workshop was to bring together all stakeholders involved in the Value Chain development in IGAD region and mainstream the needed reforms to reinvigorate agricultural commodities processing and trade. The outcome of this workshop will help define appropriate recommendations to develop and boost Agricultural commodities movement in IGAD region.

The opening ceremony was chaired by H.E. Ambassador of Algeria to Burkina Faso, on the behalf of African Ambassadors to Burkina Faso. In his welcome Remarks, Dr Ahmed ELMEKASS, AU SAFGRAD Coordinator, after  thanking the participants for their coming, has mentioned that the concerned region covered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is one of the eight building blocks of the African Economic Community. Most of the region is classified as arid and semi-arid lands.   It occupies a land area of about 5.2 million square kilometers with a population of 215.6 million. The average population growth rate in the region of 3.0% is one of the highest in the world. Almost 50% of the population is below 15 years of age. Similarly, 50% of the population in the IGAD region lives on less than one US Dollar per day. He also, said that  the value chain for strategic agricultural commodities is poorly developed in the region. The crops are produced by and large under low input low output systems .He added that this study will be as an entry point for further studies could be done in IGAD region. Moreover he said that, this study is part from AU-SAFGRAD programmes in 2014.

In his part, H.E. Abdelkrim BENCHIAH, Ambassador of Algeria to Burkina Faso, said that “ IGAD region, as one of the main African Regional Econonmic Communinauties, needs more efforts to increase crop production and reducing hunger. One of those efforts is highlighting the Strategic Agriculture commodities Value Chain”. Moreover, “the region needs more in-depht studies on the value chain of some strategic commodities such as Sorghum, Corn, Sesame, Cotton, Arabic Gum, Tea and Coffee which are representing the significant Commodities in the region” he added. As conclusion, the Algerian Ambassador thanked AU SAFGRAD for initiating this very important study.

After two days of intensive work sessions, the participants to the workshop have drafted and presented their report aiming at ameliorating the work conducted by the Consultant Dr Reda Fasil from Ethiopia. Among the recommendations, the need for AU SAFGRAD to conduct a stakeholder validation workshop and dessimination of the final report to key stakeholders and IGAD Member States.

This study is part from AU-SAFGRAD programmes in 2014. As African Union technical office for the promotion of Agricultural Research and Development within the Semi-arid zones in Africa, AU-SAFGRAD office is located since its creation in 1977 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The Office, re-institutionalized since 2003 in the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture (AUC-DREA), has facilitated the release of mature and extra mature verities; the training of 2500 African Scientists in the last 4 years as well as building the capacities of young researchers from 24 African member states. The Office has also produced and disseminated about 500 publication in different areas in Agriculture sector.  

Download here the Press Release in pdf format



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