By Morkporkpor Anku (Accra, Ghana) – A capacity building workshop aimed at reinforcing the competence of public and private stakeholders to enhance the functioning of cereal markets in West Africa, ended in Accra on Saturday.
The three-day workshop was also aimed at raising the ability of different actors in the cereals sector in the sub-region to implement commodity exchange and warehouse receipt systems.
It was organised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in partnership with ROPPA- Network of Farmers’ Organisation in West Africa, with support of CILSS, another regional organisation working on food security.
Dr Milasoa Cherel-Robson, Project Expert at the special Unit on Commodities, UNCTAD, said the workshop created awareness among regional and national stakeholders in relation to the issues, benefits, constraints and conditions necessary for development.
She said it also exchanged information and took stock of regional experiences in relation to agricultural commodity exchanges and warehouse receipt systems in the sub-region.
Dr Cherel-Robson noted the platform was used to highlight the relevance of increase access to markets and financing for the better functioning of the cereals markets in West Africa and for achieving food security.
The workshop concluded that government in the sub-region with support from various developmental partners was actively engaging in agricultural development programmes. The participants were unanimous in their view that the regulatory oversight of the exchange and other issuing tradable warehouse receipt should be exercised by the relevant Capital Market Authorities, adding that this may require reforms of particular national security and exchange legislation.
A report from the participants said: “Recognising that a potential warehouse operator may lack adequate storage capacity, particularly in surplus-producing areas, strategic investment by government and donors in expanding capacity may be necessary in some countries.”
On the role of government, the report said it should maintain an enabling policy environment that minimises uncertainty in the cereal market, mostly by avoiding an ad hoc intervention which distort the market and discourages private stockholding.
They said management should create a supportive legal and regulatory framework that was consistent with the national context but also allow for regional harmonisation in order to enable stakeholders exploit regional trading opportunities.
The report called for the provision of financial support to build the capacity of key players and exacting to ensure the emergence of a cadre of competent professional warehouse operators.
The participants urged the government to utilise commodity exchanges in public sector procurement and take steps to promote investment in storage infrastructure, especially in strategic locations as well as in improving market information collection and dissemination.
They appealed to government to provide training and capacity building workshops for key stakeholders including smallholders to empower them in the sector.