Regional Livestock Salon, Palais de la Culture, Abidjan
August 31, 2016
I am delighted to be here to participate in the opening of the first Regional Livestock Salon. Producers, traders, processors and others involved in West Africa’s livestock market are here, including members of the national livestock federations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, and Togo. Many of you are also members of the Confédération des Fédérations Nationales de la Filière Bétail/Viande or COFENABVI-AO, the regional livestock association that has provided the vision and co-financing for this event.
For centuries, regional trade in cattle, goats, and sheep has played a pivotal role in reducing poverty and improving food security and nutrition. Every year, more than a million animals are driven through West African corridors from the Sahel to large and increasingly urban and middle class coastal markets, generating more than three hundred million dollars in trade. In West Africa, it is estimated that the livestock sector contributes close to 15% of the region’s GDP, yet the full potential of West African livestock remains unrealized. The supply cannot yet meet the rising demand for high-quality animals and meats offered at competitive prices. Trade barriers related to livestock within the region remain numerous, including assessment of fees and taxes in contradiction of regional trade agreements, as well as informal checkpoints and payments and lack of harmonized documentation and standards. Strategic investments in the sector in areas such as cold storage and modern slaughterhouses as well as updating the methods of trade through introduction of formal contracts, use of scales, and introduction of standards into contracts has the potential to bring this historic trade into the 21st century global marketplace.
The U.S. government, working in partnership with regional organizations such as COFENABVI-AO and their national member federations, is committed to improving the quantity and quality of regionally grown and traded animals and meat. That is the driving force behind this Salon.
To increase the volume of high-quality fattened animals, boosting both their nutritional and financial value, USAID’s West Africa Trade and Investment Hub has partnered with local organizations to organize a cattle fatteners’ network in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. Last year, in the weeks preceding the Tabaski holiday, members of the national federation of Mali generated more than 25 billion CFA in livestock sales by opening smaller, secondary holiday markets in Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire. This year we will once again facilitate the exchanges between national livestock federations and municipal governments to open new markets, making festival trade safer and easier to access.
This Salon, a first for the region, brings together the sector’s major livestock players to learn, exchange experiences, negotiate contracts and advance livestock trade throughout West Africa. Over the next five days, the Salon will showcase the enormous and growing economic potential of the region’s livestock value chain to contribute to jobs and economic growth while also enhancing West Africa’s ability to feed its own people.
That is ultimately why the United States supports agriculture like the cattle fatteners’ network. One of our country’s most important objectives – not only in this beautiful country but throughout Africa – is to foster economic growth that is both broad-based and inclusive. As President Obama has said: “So many Africans have told us — we don’t want just aid, we want trade that fuels progress. We don’t want patrons, we want partners who help us build our own capacity to grow. We don’t want the indignity of dependence, we want to make our own choices and determine our own future.”
And that is what this salon aims to do — unleashing economic growth — not just for the few at the top, but for the many.
I look forward to hearing more about the successful business concluded at this first regional livestock salon and my best wishes for a successful and profitable event to all the businesses participating.