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BAC G1-G2 2010

Oral Test

The Place of the Agricultural Sector in West African Economy

The agricultural sector is an essential component of the economies of West African countries in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) formation, economic growth, earnings, and also in terms of jobs created. Agriculture contributes up to 25% to GDP formation and provides 52% of income from non-oil exports. It is also the biggest source of income and subsistence for nearly 70% of the working population.

For the majority of countries in the sub-region, the agricultural sector contributes toward debt servicing and provides funding for import of consumer goods, capital expenditure and raw material for industry. The first challenge in the agricultural sector is how to continue to play this economic role more efficiently by increasing the productivity of all factors and by providing raw materials for handicraft, agriculture and the agric-food industry. This is a major stake in enabling the sub-region to address its food dependence vis-à-vis the rest of the world and improve the unfavorable terms of trade for its member countries by processing products and value-addition.

Another important feature that should be noted is that West African agriculture depends mainly on small farms, which account for 90% of production and control 85% of planted land. Farming here is also largely oriented toward self-consumption and satisfying the food needs of households through domestic markets. However, in spite of this apparent specialization, it is still quite well connected to the international market through some export crops like cotton, coffee, cocoa, and many other crops such as banana, pineapple, green beans, etc...

Adapted from 2009 Report on Economic and Social Conditions in West Africa


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