17 June 2015, today is the World Day to Combat Desertification. Desertification: A silent process with a loud effect

17 June 2015, today is the World Day to Combat Desertification.

Desertification: A silent process with a loud effect

As I sat at home to put pen to paper for this piece, I was still pondering on how to start this over vexed topic when I was asked by my children what I was writing. As i tried to explain what desertification means, it became very obvious to me that for quicker comprehension there was a need to link the effect to the causes. It was important to focus their attention on deserts and the features of a desert to make them understand what desertification is.


Dr. Ahmed ELMEKASS, AU-SAFGRAD Coordinator




esertification the process of land degradation and a type of land degradation where the land cover becomes increasingly arid, typically losing its bodies of water as well as vegetation and wildlife1. It is caused by the removal of vegetation cover due to natural and man made effects; alone or in combination such as drought, climatic shifts,tillage for agriculture, overgrazing and deforestation. 2. A look at these causes reveals that human activities (agriculture, deforestation and overgrazing) are the most invasive causes of desertification. Desertification is a significant global ecological and environmental problem that reduces the ability of land to support life, affecting wild species (los of biodiversity), domestic animals, agricultural crops and people3. Despite these seemingly silent causes, desertification has a very loud and profound effects. It has played significant roles in human history; contributing to the collapse of several large empires, such as Carthage, Greece, and the Roman Empire, as well as causing displacement and relocation of local populations4. It is also the cause of most conflicts arising from natural resources use with attendant loss of lives and properties and large scale emigration. Greet social and economic losses have been linked to desertification. Desertification often occurs over many generations, on a very large scale and so it is difficult for individuals to notice the onset and take action to combat it5. In a very subtle way, desertification is doing great havoc to human livelihood and welfare that if adequate and concerted actions are not taken to combat the spread it reduces the ability of states to meet development goals and poses great danger to human existence.


The most effective way to combat desertification is a change in peoples’ mentality and a general commitment to reverse the spread.

At the Earth summit in Rio, 1992, desertification, along with climate change and the loss of biodiversity, were identified as the greatest challenges to sustainable development. The United Nations Convention to combat desertification (UNCCD) was established in 1994as the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management6.


At the continental level, the African Heads of State and Government (HOSG) in 2014, during the 22nd ordinary summit renewed their commitments to combating desertification. The HOSG pledge their commitments to implement the UNCCD protocol to address issues of land degradation, desertification, biodiversity loss and effects of drought so as to promote sustainable development on the Continent. The HOSG requested Africa Union Commission (AUC) to support Regional Economic Communities ( RECs) and Member States in collaboration with Partners to review the Regional Action Programme to combat desertification in Africa and to align it to the UNCCD Ten Year Strategy with the view to supporting poverty reduction and environmental sustainability on the Continent. To achieve this, AUC was requested to rationalize and strengthen its specialized units --the Semi-Arid Food Grains Research and Development (SAFGRAD) and the Climate Change and Densification Unit (CCDU)- as effective platform for guidance, experience sharing and coordination among the existing African Centres of Excellence on Desertification.

AU-SAFGRAD as a specialized, technical office of AUC, with mandate of building livelihood resilience of small holders in the arid zone of Africa (people that are most vulnerable to the effects of desertification), has over the years focused its activities on combating desertification in the continent. The officeplayed a key role in facilitating the release of several drought adapted food grains cultivars which are cultivated by farmers in the semi-arid regions of Africa. AU-SAFGRAD has set a functional network that brings together all the actors on the same table. Furthermore, capacity building and training of research scientists on issues of desertification has been a major activity of AU-SAFGRAD over the years (3) It also has contributed to building the knowledge base on desertification in the Semi-Arid Agriculture through production/dissemination of articles and periodicals.


In conclusion, it must be borne in mind that combating desertification is a collective responsibility. As stated above, though the causes are cumulative and often unobserved, the effects are loud and devastating. All hands must be on deck to stop this great scourge that seeks to consume entire population and the continent. Our actions and inactions will decide our fate and destiny. Policy and decision makers at all levels, scientist, farmers, herders, development planners, women, youths and children must all be involved. The must be able to appreciate and link their actions and activities, in their micro environment, to the long term consequence in the global environment. Policies that encourages conservation and sustainable use of natural resources must be implemented and aggressively enforced at all levels. If we do not start as individuals, families and groups to seriously and positively contribute and be strong partners in development of our countries, if we are still waiting for external experts to plan for us, if we put everything in the side of decision makers without our real contribution and waiting mistakes to blame them , in that time I can say we have drought in our mentality which has to be treated and to start to be positive member in our villages or our cities and contributing to the development process by combating desertification.



Dr. Ahmed Elmekass, Coordinator

African Union SAFGRAD



1. Geist 2005, The Causes and Progression of Desertification. C.F. Desertification - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertification)

2. Geeson, Nichola et al (2002). Mediterranean desertification: a mosaic of processes and responses. John Wiley & Sons. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-470-84448-9. C.F. Desertification - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertification)


4. Geist, Helmut. "The causes and progression of desertification". Antony Rowe Ltd. Ashgate publishing limited. Retrieved 6 July 2013. C.F. Desertification - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertification)


6. UNCCD Website






Gaps in the CAADP-based National Agricultural and Food Security Investment Plans (NAFSIPs) in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Senegal : A Policy Brief

gaps in the CAADP-based National Agricultural and Food Security Investment Plans (NAFSIPs) in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Senegal: Assessment of investment programmes


The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) is at the heart of efforts by African governments under the African Union 's New Partnership for Africa ' s Development (NEPAD) agenda to accelerate growth and eliminate poverty and hunger among African countries. The main goal of CAADP is to help African countries reach higher pathways to economic growth through the agricultural sector. CAADP provides a shared framework for strategic planning and partnership for the development of the agricultural sector. It also offers the prospect for political, technical and financial support for countries with plans and strategies, which are aligned with CAADP principles. Aligning with CAADP framework, therefore, requires countries to abide by two important objectives of the Maputo Declaration of: (i) achieving an annual growth rate of the agricultural sector of at least 6 percent; and (ii) allocating at least 10 percent of the national budget to agriculture.

In the West Africa region, Heads of States mandated the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at their meeting in 2002 in Yamoussokro (Ivory Coast) to support and coordinate the implementation of the CAADP program. The ECOWAP/CAADP agenda is an integrated national and regional effort to support the implementation of national and regional investment programs, modernize the agricultural sector and improve livelihoods of the people. Following, the signature of the compacts, each country held a stakeholder meeting to review the draft NAIP and integrate comments and suggestions, which emerged during the compact to develop an investment plan, and operationalize it into an investment project to stimulate the growth of the agricultural sector. After four to five years of implementation, there is a need to assess the implementation of the NAIPs. This policy review focus on four countries: Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Senegal.

Study focus

Study focuses on reviewing national investment plans in the areas: land management, Land degradation/desertification and climate change. However, all these three themes are tightly related but they are quite different. The CAADP-Pillar 1’s main objective is to help countries extend their production areas under sustainable land and water. Here, we are mainly focusing on the land aspects.

Assessment of the investment programs

The regional investment program (RAIP) and the national agricultural investment programs (NAPs) are major instruments for operationalizing the strategies on how to ensure that interventions would promote growth quickly. Along the lines, ECOWAS and its’ member countries, have been working on six major themes of which three directly relates to this review: 1) water management 2) improvement of shared natural resources and 3) sustainable development of agricultural farms. Countries, therefore, have tried to identify activities that could be carried out under these three themes building on going processes.

1.The Burkinabe NAIP: National program of the Rural Sector (PNSR), 2011-2015

The program was declined into five main axes: 1) Improvement of food security and sovereignty; 2) Improvement of the income of rural people; 3) Sustainable development and natural resource management; 4) improvement of access to potable water; and 5)Development of the partnership between actors of the rural areas.

The growths of the various sectors of the agricultural economy were: food (1.5%), commercial (1.1%); livestock (2.7%); and forests and fisheries (1%). These results clearly show that the agricultural sector is not adequately playing its role of the Burkinabe economy and hence contributing to the impoverishment of rural communities.

In that respect, the successful of the NAIP in Burkina must focus on three main sub-axes: 1) focus on providing improved seeds and fertilizer to farming communities; 2) rehabilitating and extending irrigated areas, especially given that Burkina like the other three Sahelian countries face frequent droughts and food shortages.

2.The Malian NAIP: National Priority Investments in the Agricultural Sector (PNIP-SA), 2011-2015

The approach of the plan is quite innovative as it focuses on three main programs, which are all geared towards responding to market demands: 1) promotion of cereals (maize, millet/sorghum, and rice); 2) promotion of livestock products (meat and milk); 3) promotion of fisheries and aquaculture; and 4) crosscutting issues.

CAADP modeling results in Mali has shown that the food sector contributed only 1%, the commercial sector, 1.4% and livestock 1.9%. Mali has a large comparative advantage for both crop and livestock production. Better integrating these two sectors would reduce costs greatly and also achieve higher impacts. There is scope to better integrate crop production and livestock by developing a third program that would focus on food and feed value-addition, especially making high value feeds for livestock and poultry for the region.

3.The Nigerien NAIP: Plan d’Actions de l’Initiative 3N

The national Investment program for Niger was discussed, validated, and the pact signed on December 15, 2010. However, severe food crises retarded the implementation of the NAIP and a formulation of a new initiative that came with 11 priority actions: 1) increasing irrigated farming; 2) modernization of rainfed-cropping; 3) securing livestock production; 4) intensification of long-cycle production systems; 5) intensification of short-cycle production systems; 6) sustainable management of land and biodiversity; 7) valorization of forest products; 8) transformation and marketing of products; 9) prevention and management of food crises and catastrophes; nutrition improvement of the Nigerien; and 11) capacity strengthening for the implementation of the 3N initiative.

The modeling results have shown that the contribution of the various sectors to the agricultural economy has been variable: irrigated farming (4.2%); rainfed cropping (2.4%); livestock (2.5%) and forests (2%). Similarly to Burkina Faso, there would be need for a focus on three to four priority actions, especially PIP-1, PIP-2, PIP-4 and PIP-5.

4.The Senegalese NAIP: Implementing the ECOWAP/CAADP process in Senegal, Investment Plan, 2011-2015

Senegal, like the other three countries developed its program as a strategy and prioritization process. All the sectors were evaluated and their impacts on the performance of the agricultural and national economy were also evaluated. The program was developed along the 6 axes of the CAADP: 1) Promotion of water control; 2) preservation and sustainable management of other natural resources; 3) increasing production and improving productivity; 4) development of the transformation of agricultural products; 5) market access; 6) strengthening research for better generation and transfer of new technologies; 7) strengthening the capacity of the actors; 8) coordination and piloting of the sectors. Clearly, there are two programs that are worth focusing: program-1-reduction of climatic risks through water control and 2) program-3-increasing production and improving productivity. In addition, these activities were selected according to their stage of formulation. These activities must be inserted on a-five-year schedule to better see the implementation plan.


The reviews of the NAIPs in the four countries reveal that every country succeeded in domesticating the ECOWAP/CAADP process in their policies and strategies. These NAIPs outlined their long term strategy for the development of their rural sector. Though, Mali is the sole country whose NAIP has moved from strategy to priority by selecting as well as developing projects for the three priority areas 1)food crops: rice, maize and millet); 2) livestock (meat and milk) and 3) fisheries. The Malian NAIP also tried to identify leverages for achieving program objectives. The other plans are missing that intermediary step that makes any project appealing and therefore bankable for donors and private sector.








APPEL A CANDIDATURES : Service de Consultation pour la conduite d’une Analyse des Chaînes de Valeurs du Maïs et du Sorgho dans la zone Sahélo-Saharienne d’Afrique


Service de Consultation pour la conduite d’une Analyse des Chaînes de Valeurs du Maïs et du Sorgho dans la zone Sahélo-Saharienne d’Afrique


Le SAFGRAD (Semi-Arid Food Grain Research and Development) est l’un des bureaux techniques spécialisés de la Commission de l’Union Africaine au Département de l’Economie Rurale et de l’Agriculture (DERA). En tant que bureau technique, le SAFGRAD a pour mandat stratégique de coordonner et faciliter la formulation de politiques et de programmes appropriés visant à renforcer la résilience des moyens d’existence ruraux en Afrique semi-aride. Pour atteindre cet objectif, les activités du SAFGRAD portent entre autres sur le renforcement des capacités institutionnelles en vue de réaliser des progrès dans la recherche agricole, le transfert et l’adoption de technologies; le renforcement des chaînes de valeurs; la gestion des ressources naturelles; l’atténuation et l’adaptation aux changements climatiques et la lutte contre la désertification. La vision du SAFGRAD entre en droite ligne du cadre du Programme Détaillé de Développement de l’Agriculture Africaine (PDDAA) qui est au cœur des efforts déployés par les gouvernements africains pour accélérer la croissance et éliminer la pauvreté sur l’ensemble du continent. Le SAFGRAD adopte une approche régionale et stratégique de groupe dans ses activités de recherche en vue d’explorer l’avantage de complémentarité dans la promotion de la collaboration et du partenariat à travers les blocs régionaux et économiques.

Pour promouvoir ses activités de développement des produits stratégiques, l’UA-SAFGRAD souhaite requérir les services de consultants pour conduire une analyse des chaînes de valeurs du maïs et du sorgho dans la zone Sahélo-Saharienne d’Afrique. La Commission invite par conséquent les candidats, citoyens des Etats Membres, à déposer leurs candidatures pour ce service de consultation.

L’étude sera conduite dans les pays suivants: Algérie, Burkina-Faso, Tchad, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinée, Guinée-Bissau, Libye, Mali, Mauritanie, Niger, Nigeria, Sénégal et Soudan. 



1.        Poste

Titre du Poste:      Consultants (un par pays)

Niveau du Poste:   Consultant

Lieu d’Affectation: les pays ci-dessus mentionnés.

Supérieur hiérarchique:  Le Coordonnateur de l’UA-SAFGRAD

2.        Principales tâches et responsabilités (champ d’action)

.           Conduire une revue documentaire de l’économie du maïs et du sorgho dans le pays:

-     Examen des tendances et conditions de la production et de la commercialisation

-     Examen des lois, politiques, programmes et cadres institutionnels mis en place pour encourager les investissements dans la chaîne du produit

  • Faire une cartographie des chaînes de valeurs du maïs et du sorgho dans chaque pays. Cela impliquera:

-     L’identification des principaux acteurs et des flux de produits, flux financiers et d’information tout au long de la chaîne du produit.

-     La cartographie des politiques et institutions clés qui influencent le fonctionnement de la chaîne de valeurs au niveau national et régional,

  • Conduire des interviews de groupes témoins au sein des principales parties prenantes dans chaque section de la chaîne de valeurs afin d’identifier les contraintes et les opportunités en termes de réduction des coûts de transaction et d’amélioration de l’accès au marché de ces produits.
  • Identifier et analyser tous les dispositifs institutionnels, les partenariats public-privé et les liens formels entre les acteurs de la chaîne dans la chaîne de valeurs concernée.
  • Conduire une analyse genre et jeunes des activités de réalisation d’une valeur ajoutée afin de mettre en exergue les relations de pouvoir le long de la chaîne
  • Faciliter et présenter le rapport final lors de l’atelier national des parties prenantes qui sera organisé par l’UA-SAFGRAD dans le pays de l’étude, le cas échéant
  • Présenter le rapport final lors d’un atelier régional qui sera organisé par l’UA-SAFGRAD à Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
  • Finaliser le document de l’étude et le soumettre à l’UA-SAFGRAD dans les limites du temps imparti.

3.        Qualifications:

Diplôme supérieur universitaire (Masters ou PhD) en Science de l’Agriculture, Economie de l’Agriculture, Sciences du Développement et des Investissements, Economie Sociale ou toute autre discipline connexe.

4.        Expérience Professionnelle:

Le consultant devra avoir les qualifications minimales suivantes:

  • Au moins 10 ans d’expérience dans le domaine de l’agriculture ou du secteur rural dans les pays en développement
  • Une expérience dans l’évaluation des chaînes de valeurs ou de produits, dans les études de l’agro-business, les études de marché ou de développement commercial, les enquêtes agricoles et l’analyse de groupes en Afrique.




5.        Autres compétences pertinentes :

  • Connaissances de l’outil informatique et expertise dans l’utilisation des logiciels de présentation de communications
  • Excellentes compétences de rédaction et de présentation de rapports
  • Bonnes compétences en matière de planification et d’organisation de la conduite d’enquêtes et d’interviews sur le terrain.
  • Conscience et efficacité dans le respect des délais et l’obtention de résultats.
  • Responsabilité de l’atteinte des buts et de la résolution des défis.
  • Capacités réelles et distinctes de communication et excellentes compétences de communications écrites et orales.
  • Capacité à comprendre, défendre et expliquer avec tact les résultats de l’étude.
  • Capacité à travailler sous pression et avec des collaborateurs, à établir et entretenir de bonnes relations de travail avec les collègues

6.        Connaissance des langues:

Connaissance courante; orale et écrite de l’une quelconque des langues de travail de l’UA. L’aptitude à rédiger des rapports en Anglais serait un atout.

7.        Durée de l’engagement:

La consultation est prévue pour une période maximale de 3 mois, à compter de juillet 2015.

8.        Prise en compte du genre:

La Commission de l’UA est un employeur qui offre les mêmes opportunités à tous et les femmes qualifiées sont fortement encouragées à postuler.

9.        Produits attendus :

Rapport initial: Le consultant devra préparer un rapport initial décrivant la méthodologie de l’étude et contenant un plan de travail détaillé en concertation avec l’UA-SAFGRAD.

Projet de rapport: le consultant devra soumettre un projet de rapport pour examen par l’équipe de l’UA-SAFGRAD et d’autres parties prenantes clés au sein et hors du SAFGRAD. Le rapport sera soumis en version électronique.

Rapport final: Le rapport final sera soumis aussi bien en copies imprimées qu’en versions électroniques à l’UA-SAFGRAD


10.      Rémunération :

La rémunération est fixée à la somme forfaitaire de six mille dollars des Etats-Unis (6000 $ US) payables comme suit:

            40% à la signature du contrat et réception du rapport initial

-           30% à la soumission d’un projet de rapport approuvé

-           30% après la validation et la soumission du rapport final

En outre, l’UA-SAFGRAD prendra en charge les consultants retenus pour leur participation à l’atelier sur la méthodologie et l’atelier régional qui se tiendront à Ouagadougou.

11.      Candidature:

Les candidats sont invités à soumettre les documents suivants:

  1. a.Une lettre d’intention et
  2. b.Un CV détaillé et actualisé


Les candidatures doivent être reçues au plus tard le 10 mai 2015, à l’adresse suivante:

Africa Union Commission

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)

P.O. Box 3243

Fax: +251-1-5525840/5510430

E-mail: Cette adresse e-mail est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.

 Format PDF


REQUEST FOR APPLICATION : Consultancy Service to conduct Maize and Sorghum Value chains Analysis in Sahelo-Saharan zone of Africa


Consultancy Service to conduct Maize and Sorghum Value chains Analysis in Sahelo-Saharan zone of Africa


The Semi-Arid Food Grain Research and Development (SAFGRAD) is one of the specialized technical offices of the African Union Commission in the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture (DREA). As a technical office, the strategic mandate is to lead, coordinate and facilitate the formulation of appropriate policies and programmes that build resilience of rural livelihoods in semi-arid Africa. To achieve this, SAFGRAD activities include strengthening 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. SAFGRAD vision falls within the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development (CAADP) framework which is at the heart of efforts by African governments to accelerate growth and eliminate poverty across the continent. SAFGRAD adopts regional and strategic group approach in its research activities to explore complementarity advantage in promoting collaboration and partnership across regional and economic blocks.


In furtherance of its activities in strategic commodity development, AU-SAFGRAD intends to engage the service of consultants to conduct maize and sorghum value chains analysis in the Sahelo-Saharan zone of Africa. The Commission invites applicants, who are citizens of Member States, for the consultancy service.

The study will be conducted in the following countries: Algeria, Burkina-Faso, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan. 



1.        Post

Post title:      Consultants (one per country)

Post level:   Consultant

Duty Station: Countries listed above.

Immediate Supervisor:    Coordinator, AU-SAFGRAD

2.        Major duties and responsibilities (Scope of work)

.           Conduct a desk review of the maize and sorghum economy in the country:

-     review of the production and marketing trends and condition

-     review of existing laws, policies, programmes and institutional frameworks put in place to encourage investments in the commodity chain

  • Conduct the maize and sorghum value chains mapping in each country. This will involve:

-     Identifying the main actors and the flows of products, money and information along the commodity chain.

-     Map key policies and institutions that influence the functioning of the value chain at the national and regional level,

  • Conduct focus group interviews with the major stakeholders at each section of the value chain so as to identify constraints and opportunities to reduce transaction cost and improve market access of the commodities
  • Identify and analyze any institutional arrangements, public-private partnerships and formal linkages between chain actors in the value chain.
  • Conduct a gender and youth analysis of value adding activities so as to highlight the power relations along the chain
  • Facilitate and present the final report at a national stakeholders’ workshop to be organized by AU-SAFGRAD in the country of study, if required
  • Present the final report at a regional workshop to be organized by AU-SAFGRAD in Ouagadougou, Burkina.
  • Finalize the study document and submit to AU-SAFGRAD within the time allotted.

3.        Educational Qualifications:

An advanced University degree (Masters Level or PhD) in agricultural Science, agricultural economics, development and investment sciences, social economics or any related discipline.

4.        Work Experience:

The consultant shall have the following minimum qualifications:

  • At least 10 years of experience working in the agriculture or rural sector in developing countries
  • Previous experience in value chain or commodity assessment, agribusiness studies, market or trade development studies, farm surveys and group analysis in Africa.

5.        Other relevant skills

  • Computer literacy and expertise in use of presentations software
  • Excellent report drafting and reporting skills.
  • Good planning and organizational skills in conducting field surveys and interviews.
  • Conscientious and efficient in observing deadlines and achieving results.
  • Takes accountability for goals and challenges.
  • Effective and distinct communication ability with excellent written and verbal communications skills.
  • Ability to understand, defend and explain with tact the findings of study.
  • Ability to work under pressure and collaboratively with and to establish and maintain effective working relationships with colleagues

6.        Language requirement:

Proficiency; both verbal and written, in any one of AU’ working languages. Ability to write reports in English languages would be added advantage.

7.        Tenure of Appointment:

The consultancy is planned for a maximum period of 3 months, starting from July 2015.

8.        Gender Mainstreaming:

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

9.        Expected Outputs

Inception report: The consultant will prepare an inception report including the methodology of the study and detailed work plan in consultation with AU-SAFGRAD.

Draft report: the consultant will submit a draft report for review by AU-SAFGRAD team and other key stakeholders within and outside SAFGRAD. The report will be submitted in electronic copy.

Final report: The final report will be submitted in both hard and soft       copies to AU-SAFGRAD

10.      Remuneration

The remuneration is a lump sum of Six thousand dollars (USD 6000) to be released as follow:

            40% at contract signing and receipt of inception report

-           30% at submission of an approved draft report

-           30% after validation and submission of the final report

In addition, AU-SAFGRAD will sponsor selected consultants to the methodology and regional workshops in Ouagadougou.

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

  1. a.A letter of intent and
  2. b.A detailed, updated CV


The applications must be received on or before 10th of May 2015, and should be addressed to:

Africa Union Commission

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)

P.O. Box 3243

Fax: +251-1-5525840/5510430

E-mail: Cette adresse e-mail est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.  

PDF Version


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


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