It is disputable whether export bans will bring the desired food security. In all events, they constitute a major barrier to intra-regional trade.
Photo: FAO/G. Bizzarri


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Regional trade bears a great potential to improve food security in West Africa. Again and again, however, efforts made in this field by organisations such as ECOWAS and UEMOA are frustrated by the policies of individual countries.

In recent years West Africa has experienced serious difficulties in producing enough cereals to feed its population. Blame can be put on drought and other climatic or anthropogenic disasters such as war or political instability. But the issue also remains that cereal bans, used by politicians as a means to address food security, are increasing food insecurity and are in total disregard of the rules set by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) on the free circulation of goods and persons with the West African sub-region. Trade policies and unlawful practices affecting the trade of cereals in West Africa are as follows:

Prohibiting exports

National governments in West Africa often impose export restrictions on grain, in the form of global export bans or seasonal bans. By blocking exports, they hope to ensure an adequate supply of grain to their own markets during the “short season”.

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