West Africa’s regional livestock trade

Regional livestock trade in West Africa is suffering due to lack of policy integration and illegal cross-border “taxes”.

Livestock trade policies differ widely between countries in West Africa. Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger are livestock exporting countries, and want to strengthen livestock marketing and processing and promote regional trade. Livestock importing countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria, promote policies that protect local livestock producers, boost internal production, and ensure food security in livestock products. A recently released report investigating livestock policies in six West African countries has urged that regional policies be streamlined, harmonised and implemented in a coordinated way to avoid bureaucratic bottlenecks. The report also noted that transportation of livestock across borders and illegal “taxes” represent significant additional marketing costs that impact negatively on regional livestock trade.

  • In West Africa, cross-border transportation can cost a staggering 300% more than the equivalent transfer of beef from Europe to West Africa’s coast. Meantime, regional cross-border transfer of cattle costs twice as much as domestic transportation, despite better transportation infrastructures.
  • Intra-regional trade in live animals attracts certain costs which are unlikely to be incurred if meat products are traded. For example, livestock drovers (people who drive herds of animals to market) are paid handling fees during the 2-3 day trip.
  • Some governments in the region are not fully committed to the implementation of agreed trade policy reforms concerning trade liberalisation and facilitation, exchange and payments systems and investment facilitation. This negatively affects costs of livestock trade and regional integration.
  • Illegal road taxation at numerous checkpoints can be as much as 10% of total marketing costs. Here, traders are required to make non-receipted payments to public agents for no obvious reason (see box below)
Illegal “taxes” at checkpoints hurt regional livestock trade

Numerous checkpoints exist along the highways where non-receipted payments are systematically made to police, customs, veterinary and other officials per truckload of cattle.

    Along the main cross-border trading routes, the checkpoints at Ferkessedougou and Bouake, both in Côte d’Ivoire, have the most notorious reputation, harbouring up to three different agents, namely: police, customs and gendarmerie. The checkpoint in Zegua, Mali is also reputed for frequent payments made to officials. Depending on the itinerary, total non-receipted payments can range from 12,000 FCFA on the Bittou to Accra route to 71,000 FCFA from Sikasso to Abidjan, translating respectively to 1.7 and 10.5% of cross-border marketing costs for cattle in the two routes. Illegal “taxes” between Sikasso to Abidjan are nearly twice as high as the government imposed fuel taxes for the same route.

Abolishing illegal cross border “taxes” would result in significant cost reductions and minimisation of delays that lead to deteriorating cattle health and sometimes death.

Recommendations include:

  • Protocols on regional livestock trade and regional integration introduced by the Union Économique et Monétaire de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (UEMOA) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), need to be streamlined, harmonised and implemented.
  • Regional livestock trade should shift its current focus from live animals to meat.
  • Regulations that provide for the free movement of people and goods in the region should be implemented by reducing the number of roadside checkpoints, curbing the excesses of conveyance companies (sociétés de convoyage), and actively fighting illegal road taxation.

Report and Briefs

The full report and a set of four briefs are now available for download.

Read the complete Improvement of Livestock Marketing and Regional Trade in West Africa report: https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/10568/1572/1/CFC_Report_on_Trade_In_WAfrica_1.pdf

Brief 1: Marketing livestock in West Africa: Opportunities and constraints: Brief 1  T.O. Williams, I. Okike, I. Baltenweck and C. Delgado.

This brief summarises the discussions and major outputs from a regional workshop held in Niamey, Niger in 1999. The objective was to analyse the economic, institutional and policy constraints to livestock marketing and trade in order to provide a basis for new policy interventions to improve market efficiency and intra-regional livestock trade.

Read the complete brief: https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/10568/1593/1/WestAfrLivestock1-Eng.pdf

Brief 2: Livestock marketing channels, flows and prices in West Africa: Brief 2. I. Okike, T.O. Williams, B. Spycher, S. Staal and I. Baltenweck

Livestock markets that are strategically located along the border of neighbouring countries to ease cross-border trade were studied to identify livestock marketing channels from farm gates to terminal markets. Economic operators and livestock flows within these channels were also examined along with seasonal variations and other factors affecting livestock prices. The findings indicate that producers and operators can realise significant economic benefits by increasing meat production and livestock trade value through improved credit access and better market information.

Read the complete brief: https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/10568/1774/1/WestAfrLivestock2-Eng.pdf

Brief 3: Lowering cross-border livestock transportation and handling costs in West Africa: Brief 3. I. Okike, B. Spycher, T.O. Williams and I. Baltenweck

This brief analyses the costs incurred in the transfer of animals through the marketing chain and highlights areas where costs could be reduced for example, intra-regional trade in live animals attracts certain types of costs which are unlikely to be incurred if meat products, rather than live animals, are traded.

Read the complete brief: https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/10568/1932/1/WestAfrLivestock3-Eng.pdf

Brief 4: Promoting livestock marketing and intraregional trade in West Africa: Brief 4   I. Okike, T.O. Williams and I. Baltenweck

Livestock trade has the potential to contribute even more to foreign exchange earnings if properly promoted. The major economic, institutional and policy barriers to the realisation of the full potentials of livestock trade are identified in this brief.

Read the complete brief: https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/10568/1702/1/WestAfrLivestock4-Eng.pdf

Explosion in livestock products and livestock feed

An 'explosion' in milk and meat consumption in developing countries is being predicted, which will, in turn, lead to an 'explosion' in demand for nutritious livestock feed. ILRI Director and economist Christopher Delgado, addressing 1,500 scientists at the 20th International Grassland Congress conference in Dublin this month, predicted an “explosion” in consumption of milk and meat in developing countries over the next 15 years, which, he says, is already causing a “livestock revolution”. Irish Times (Ireland) news article, 28 June 2005 - Explosion forecast in consumption in developing world This, ‘explosion’ will, in turn, create an ‘explosion’ in the demand for livestock feed in developing countries. Imports of livestock feeds are expected to grow exponentially to meet this demand, but it also presents opportunities for poor farmers to explore markets for ‘home-grown’ forages. ILRI researchers are assisting in the identification of grasses and legumes for tropical climates that have the greatest potential as nutritious feeds. Poor-quality feed and fluctuating feed supplies place huge constraints on livestock productivity in developing countries. Nutritious grasses, that are readily accessible and affordable, can play a key role in alleviating poverty. But, knowing which grasses best suit the particular climate and conditions is a prerequisite. At the Grassland Conference, ILRI and partners launched a new interactive decision support tool which will help growers in developing countries select the best forage grasses for their local environments. The new decision support tool has captured 50 years of documented knowledge on grasses and legumes for livestock food, suitable for tropical and subtropical climates. But this is not just a collection of papers. It has also captured decades of tacit knowledge – expertise and know-how – garnered from the world’s most experienced scientists in tropical forages, and made this available as a public resource. According to ILRI’s Forage Diversity Project Leader, Dr Jean Hanson “There are a diverse range of grasses that could be grown as new forage resources for livestock in the tropics. Growers need to know which grasses are going to be the most productive and most nutritious in relation to their particular environment and livestock. To a great extent, this software has removed much of the trial and error as it will help select the ‘best-bet’ options. Ultimately, this is going to be of great benefit to thousands of small farmers in developing countries." Tropical Forages Decision Support Tool Tropical Forages Decision Support Tool The Tropical Forages Decision Support Tool has been developed by an international team of forage experts led by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization/Queensland Department of Primary Industry/University of Queensland, Australia, the Centro Internacional Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) with financial support from ACIAR (the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research), BMZ (Germany), DFID (UK). The new information and selection tool is available online at: http://www.tropicalforages.info/ ILRI undertakes a host of forage diversity activities, with the purpose of identifying tropical grasses and legumes that have greatest potential as nutritious livestock feed in developing countries. ILRI Briefing Note - Forage diversity activities at ILRI

Blue Revolution follows Livestock Revolution

ILRI director and economist Christopher Delgado says that Asia's abundance of labour makes aquaculture attractive for the region, where farmers are raising fish in abandoned ponds and ditches to sell at markets, thus earning them an income as well as helping them to feed their families. ILRI director and economist Christopher Delgado is quoted in the Des Moines Register newspaper this June. Dr. Delgado leads research on both fish and ruminant livestock revolutions at ILRI and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), based in Washington DC.


Des Moines Register (USA) article, 11 June 2005 – Indian scientist wins food prize