Agriculture, Food and Jobs in West Africa

The food economy plays an important role in employment in West Africa, particularly in rural areas. This paper published by OECD takes a look at the current structure of employment in the West African food economy.

The paper Agriculture, Food and Jobs in West Africa has been published within the West African Papers series by OECD in April 2018. This paper aims to contribute to the debate by quantifying and describing the current structure of employment in the West African food economy and by looking at some of the emerging spatial and territorial implications linked to the transformations that are reshaping this sector.

The food economy is the biggest employer in West Africa accounting for 66 per cent of total employment, representing 82 million jobs. If only rural areas are considered the percentage is far higher: Overall, food economy employment accounts for 81 per cent of total rural employment. The high share of rural food-economy employment is explained by the overall dominance of agricultural activities.

The food economy plays a particularly important role in women’s employment. 68 per cent of all employed women work in the food economy. They dominate employment in off-farm segments including food-away-from-home, food processing and food marketing. Policies and investments promoting off-farm food economy activities will have a particularly large impact on women, according to the authors.

While the majority of food economy jobs are in agriculture, off-farm employment in food-related manufacturing and service activities is increasing as the food economy adapts to rapid population growth, urbanisation and rising incomes. Given the importance of the food economy in generating employment, its current structure and projected changes have major implications for the design of jobs strategies.

In the paper, the structure of employment in the food economy is quantified and described across four broad segments of activities: agriculture, processing, marketing and food-away-from home.

(OECD/ile)

Read the paper Agriculture, Food and Jobs in West Africa