Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


4.1 - SAPs and modalities of implementation
4.2 - Consequences of SAPs on FSDS and food security

4.1 - SAPs and modalities of implementation

The macroeconomic and financial imbalances noted at the end of the ‘70s were related to the combination of inappropriate domestic policies (recourse to borrowing because of a lack of savings, non-productive projects, money taken from agriculture to finance bureaucracy, ineffective and costly public intervention, etc.) and the unstable and unfavourable international environment (inflation, the oil shocks, fluctuations in raw material prices, etc.). During the ‘80s many countries in the Sub-Saharan zone used SAPs which they justified by the need to ensure government solvency. The IMF and the World Bank rescheduled their debts with conditionalities attached. The SAPs were built around three main objectives: restoring a balanced budget, restoring the trade balance, and the balance of payments. To do this the following three principles were applied:

Structural adjustment therefore created a “virtuous circle” for economic operation (see Figure 2) generating an export-led development process (Griffon, Henry & Lemelle, 1991).

Figure 2
Simplified outline of the objectives and operation of structural adjustment

4.2 - Consequences of SAPs on FSDS and food security

4.2.1 - Immediately perceptible consequences
4.2.2 - What is the likely future against this background?

It is difficult to evaluate the SAPs for methodological reasons. According to Azoulay and Dillon (1993) several approaches are possible:

For the purposes of this paper we shall analyse the various elements of food security: availability, accessibility, risks, sustainability.

4.2.1 - Immediately perceptible consequences - Availability - Risks

What we have been able to note are not solely the direct consequences of structural adjustment but the outcome of twenty years of centralized planning and ten years of structural adjustment. Liberalization has often exposed existing shortcomings in the FSDS, but it has also had negative repercussions on the organization and operation of the FSDS. - Availability

The availability food products depends on the level of production, the level of the industrial development and the sound operation of the marketing system. We shall briefly examine the different parties involved in these sectors of FSDS:

a) Producers

The agrarian system is hardly developing at all, there is no turnover among the agricultural population which is ageing. The population burden per farmer is rising. At the present time, for example, a farmer is Côte d’Ivoire has to feed one town dweller, whereas thirty years ago the ratio was five to one. The situation is changing much more slowly in Burkina Faso, however, which still remains profoundly rural (12% urbanization rate). Only by intensifying production and raising the living standards of the farmers will it be possible to cater for the needs of the population and meet the export demand, since agriculture is often the only possible source of foreign exchange.

Food crop production is substantial and would be sufficient if waste and losses could be controlled (food losses total 8 million tonnes in Côte d’Ivoire). There is a fairly good spread of local produce on the markets, but it is not possible to quantify it or discover its geographic origin, or the circuits used by these flows. This is a major shortcoming if the supplies are to improve in time and in space.

There is great agricultural potential: although extensive agriculture is no longer advisable because it is currently being practised on fragile land and therefore threatens to make the ecological environment unsustainable, farming could be intensified using quite simple techniques. The former public extension services such as ADER in Côte d’Ivoire have been dismantled, but nothing has been put in their place. There is a lack of knowledge about food issues, even though examples exist that show that there is a strong political will to change this situation, and considerable effort can still be made (Côte d’Ivoire is a case in point, which has now self-sufficient in rice in seven years thanks to the establishment of a properly resourced SODERIZ). In Burkina Faso the government continues to control extension. The reorganization of the services, however, has made it possible to set up pilot stations, with demonstrations through the assignment of village plots given by technical extension workers. ANADER is responsible for them. One of the major problems is to win back the farmers’ confidence in the technical agents. In the past they were civil servants specializing in just one product, and there was a high turnover among the agents, who sometimes gave the people contradictory advice. Today the technicians must be multi-disciplinary, and must be able to take a comprehensive view of the farm.

Agriculture which is highly fragmented is not organized (we are not talking here about cash crop farming for exports, which has its own organization and rules). Setting up organizations for the producers is one way of standing up to the traders, and is wholly to their benefit. For example, coffee producers in Côte d’Ivoire used to earn 10% of the market value of coffee. Today they receive 60% (according to our discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture). Agriculture under contract would provide a guarantee to the traders or to the industrialists, but contracts could also be concluded with producer groups to exploit economies of scale. Are people’s mentalities ready for this, though? Agreements between farmers and traders are taking time to become established.

Unplanned production is a cause of substantial loss of earnings to producers. For plentiful supplies of the same products arrive on the markets at the same time, and prices therefore plummet. If production schedules were laid down, would prevent this from occurring. Off-season products are often too expensive because of losses and the lack of irrigation. In the dry season people have to choose between using the water for drinking or for irrigation.

Liberalization has temporarily benefited production because of price increases, but this effect might boomerang because price rises have led to over-production, so that some people have sold short or prices have fallen. Discouraged farmers could give up producing these products, which would create shortages once again.

As far as livestock is concerned, the current system is extensive, based on transhumance, but the livestock population is small. However, this is a safe form of capital investment in the absence of a proper banking systems; the livestock is only sold off to meet cash requirements of herdsmen which are deliberately restricted in order to ensure that the capital does not disappear in the name of family solidarity. To make up for the shortage of beef, attempts to develop poultry farming have been successfully carried out by rationalizing traditional methods, particularly in Ouagadougou. The advantage of this production is the proximity of the town and the fact that conservation problems are concealed by selling live chickens. But poultry farming is limited by the shortage of chicken feed.

Pressure on the land is very strong. The government inherited colonial legislation under which everything belongs to the State. Today, property is being transferred to individuals on condition that the land is either farmed for crops or used for buildings. Customary law clashes with Statute law and the result is always to the benefit of the government. Customary law is now re-emerging and it will be necessary to lay down regulations to prevent unplanned and haphazard installations being set up on the land and unpredictable land settlement patterns. The new arrivals negotiate with the people holding customary rights and unlawfully buy the land. The government is the main land planner and manager in the towns at the present time.

Around the towns a market gardening belt is being set up. The circuit is very short: production is in the town or only 10 to 20 km outside. It is a very dynamic business (the idle own periods are becoming shorter) and it is still very profitable. It is indispensable to organize this sector because there are substantial losses and very sharp peaking in food availability, which lowers producer prices. Better productivity would be advisable, but that is highly dependent on the seed quality: people normally produce their own seeds, which affects the quality of the product and yields. Production is also highly dependent on land tenure: plots are becoming fewer in number as the towns expand, and market gardening is carried out on rented land, which is not being used for other commodities. There are no service facilities (refrigeration, packaging, etc.).

Agricultural credit, which is vitally important, comes and goes: government institutions have often been wound up, and the private sector has only taken with great reluctance. At the present time there are a few credit services based on a mutual system. There are also social funds which take the form of loans to businessmen, requiring collateral, which poses problems.

Basically the drama of the West African countries is the fact that agriculture is not considered to be a trade. It is a social and cultural component. The disorganization that exists downstream does not give a full understanding of the value of the efforts made upstream.

A sociological analysis of African society would bring out more clearly some of the obstacles to progress. For example, to challenge ancestral cropping practices is considered an act of disobedience and an infringement of the obligation to show proper respect for and to submit to the elders. How can these obstacles be removed? One example comes from Burkina Faso where people are refusing to apply intensification techniques to traditional cereals (millet and sorghum) even though there are no objections in the case of new crops such as maize.

b) Traders and distributors

The marketing problem is much more acute in some countries, such as Côte d’Ivoire or Senegal, than in others, such as Burkina Faso which only markets 10% of its output, while the rest is consumed by the farmers themselves. There is a social division of trade. Cereals are traded by the men (maize, millet, sorghum, rice) while foodcrops are traded by the women (cassava, yam, plantains, fruits and vegetables). In Côte d’Ivoire, 90% of the food crop trade is handled by the women. They are also responsible for controlling the sale of artisanally prepared or processed products in the towns.

Women traders also perform a distribution function which does not exist at the most widely fragmented level. They have shown great adaptability in adjusting to the resources and needs of the consumers. They control the whole of the food chain, from credit to sale, and they cannot be ignored.

The organization of marketing is sine qua non condition for the development of agriculture and the establishment of the CMAOC - the large regional market of twenty countries in West and Central Africa. This large market has reduced the number check-points which hold up the products and gives rise to the levying of illegal taxes, and it is streamlining procedures and has introduced common regulations and a list of approved traders. In order to prevent the establishment of cartels and monopolies, plans have been made to help the trade unions and Chambers of Commerce set up a system of commodity-based trades. Road, storage and market facilities will be necessary to facilitate commodity flows and limit the very high loss rates (20 to 40% in Côte d’Ivoire, for example).

There is no chance of planning production until transport is regular, adequate and cheaper. The few hauliers that exist are more inclined to transport profitable products such as cacao, coffee, cotton, export commodities, in preference to fresh produce, in order to make up for the very heavy and illegal taxes they are forced to pay. They want to pay a license fee exempting them from having to pay all these different taxes.

At the present time there is no wholesale market, as this term is understood in Europe. The first one is being set up at Bouaké. Markets are mushrooming spontaneously at the transshipment points and near the places where goods are consumed. The government is using these natural crossroads in order to set up markets with facilities, which the local authorities are currently managing and maintaining. Because of a lack of skilled workers, facilities, resources and will, the state of the markets leaves much to be desired. The large market at Ouagadougou is a very good case in point: it started off on the wrong foot at the beginning and today it accommodates 400 traders, while a further 20,000 applicants are waiting their turn. Its management and maintenance are subcontracted to a private firm. While the services supplied in exchange for the license are convincing, the organized market can syphon off the majority of trade, otherwise there is a risk of parallel markets developing (this is a challenge to the Bouaké wholesale market which still has to convince 600 wholesalers of its usefulness).

The market infrastructures are poor and there are no cold chambers, which means that perishable goods, particularly meat, must be sold the same day.

In Côte d’Ivoire, three collection centres have been set up to channel the goods towards Abidjan in place of the production markets. Even though this change is more profitable in terms of transport and marketing, in effect it is acting as a brake on market transparency because it cuts off the producers from the traders. It is on the production markets that the first market price is set. Without information, this separation makes the market less transparent still.

Very often the traders act as money-lenders to the farmers. Their collectors act as brokers and provide all the information needed to negotiate prices. In years when production is low the traders practise a policy of patronage, lowering the legal tax charges to the value-added. For large traders, speculating with products by storage is financially more attractive at the end of a period of market standstill than investing an equivalent amount of money in the bank. The traders cash in widely on fluctuations in production, with higher risks but also with potentially much larger returns, to the detriment of the consumer who has to pay more for their products.

Most food is traded in the informal sector. The usefulness of replacing the informal sector is not disputed, but there is widespread disagreement on whether to formalize to support the informal sector (see below the discussion on the place of the informal and the formal sectors).

c) Industrial agriculture

The industrial fabric is weak and only organized for export products. Rural farms and street traders only need simple processing technology to lighten the manual drudgery of the women (processing cassava, or milling cereals). This technology exists, but it is not widespread. This is why a sociological survey would be useful to understand why people are reluctant to adopt the technology, and see how to win them over. It is particularly effective to win over first of all the village head, and to convince him of the usefulness of a technology, for otherwise there is likely to be a conflict between the authority of the chiefs and the administrative agents.

Industries to supply the urban centres do not have to be large and/or sophisticated because the intermediate goods and services as well as maintenance are too costly. They also demand training levels for their staff that are outside their reach. What is urgently necessary is to supply the masses, cheaply, with the products that make up their staple diet (cassava paste, attiéké, corn flour, other preparations based on maize, fruits and vegetables, etc.).

Small-scale local industry is still in its infancy and is mainly restricted to jam or fruit and vegetable canning units. The prices of these products are not competitive, because the containers cost more than their contents. - Risks

Two types of risk must be considered: risks relating to food quality and nutrition risks linked to the lack of access to food and to a balanced diet.

Controlling the wholesomeness and quality of food is a component of food security. Even though food is generally controlled when it enters the country, and in the slaughterhouses and on the markets, the system suffers from an acute shortage of supervisory, organizational and personnel training facilities. The existing laboratories for carrying out controls were mainly designed for export commodities but they must now be extended to cover local products. Furthermore the regulations governing them are vague and open to all kinds of interpretations. The effect of liberalization has been to transfer some of the regulations and responsibilities to the local authorities. Even though they do not have personnel properly trained to carry out checks, they nevertheless levy taxes on the markets without providing the services paid for.

Hygiene services manage to carry out sound control upstream of the food chain, but nothing at all downstream. Priority should be given to health checks in the slaughterhouses, the markets, and in the “maquis” and on food prepared and sold in the streets, where the recycling of perished products is commonplace. Market managers, traders and consumers have no basic knowledge about food hygiene. Market management has been transferred entirely to the local authorities, including control of the health aspects, but they have neither the facilities nor the skills to carry out this function. It is quite common for the rules to be breached and the local authorities come up against the administrative authorities. Even where inedible products are seized, there is a lack of storage facilities and places for these items to be destroyed.

One major difficulty in ensuring good quality control is the fact that the rules are scattered and there are so many authorities responsible for carrying out the controls: the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Trade, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, etc. One might imagine one single standardization or enforcement authority, leaving implementation to the various government agencies. But the prior need for a general set of health rules, with a component dealing with food hygiene, requires a procedure lasting several years. Meanwhile, would it not be useful to have a national hygiene campaign?

At WAEMU level, it is planned in 1997 to examine non-coercive quality standards, accepted by operators in different countries. But for this to come about, it is necessary to find out what are the present rules, compare them, and get them accepted.

4.2.2 - What is the likely future against this background?

French-speaking African countries are at a crossroads in their social development. The environment seems difficult: the purchasing power is being eroded, there the economy is completely disorganized, with no-one to take over following the widespread and sudden withdrawal of government, and deregulation at every level of the food chain.

Paradoxically, these difficulties could provide the opportunity for a real takeoff, provided that there is also a real political will to revive the economy and guarantee the food security of the people.

For liberalization has make agents realize their responsibilities, forcing them to adopt survival strategies. At the moment they can see the need to become organized and they themselves are demanding production and marketing rules so that they are no longer subject to abuses in the informal sector. Liberalization has revealed a lack of regulation or a failure to enforce them during 30 years of State monopoly.

Liberalization is making trade possible. West Africa has enough potential to supply food to the whole area: rice, maize, millet, sorghum, fruit, vegetables and livestock products. Without pushing each of the WAMU member countries to extreme forms of specialization (which might jeopardize the whole principle of food security) it is noteworthy that all these countries are complementary in many respects as far as food is concerned. These countries also have an undeniable commercial advantage by sharing a common currency and a common language. This is why they must remove their present contradictions: they must exploit liberalization in order to sell their products in neighbouring countries, while protecting themselves from inflows of products from those neighbours. It is common sense to bring about liberalization within the WAEMU without pushing to absurd lengths the comparative advantages and protecting regional borders. This presupposes common internal and external regulations.

Lastly, liberalization can make it possible to restore the confidence of the operators involved. It is noteworthy that at every level there is suspicion and a lack of trust in government information, controls, and decisions. This makes it difficult for the indispensable public services to work properly. The best evidence of this is the fact that private parallel unofficial services have been established. Restoring confidence will take time, and can only be done if the authorities show that they are competent.

In addition to liberalization, devaluation is also providing fresh opportunities. Even though it has reduced purchasing power due to the increased prices of imported food and intermediate goods and services, it has encouraged consumers to return towards relatively less costly local products. Feeding patterns have changed in favour of local products. It is therefore an opportunity for the economic revival of the agrifood sector. Governments must naturally control inflation, in order to prevent the benefits of devaluation being frittered away. Fortunately the free market economy has worked well, and after an initial upsurge prices have stabilized at a lower level.

Lastly, as far as the central issue of the programme is concerned, namely urbanization, its acceleration is causing concern because it is essential to drain off the increasing flows of goods towards these concentration points and organize distribution within the towns. Another paradoxical situation is that this situation provides an opportunity to give a boost to agriculture and trade, because it guarantees a stable market. The demand that formerly came from the countryside, which was widespread and fluctuating, could not become structural. Today there are guaranteed outlets if the quality and quantity remain stable, and indeed increase.

Despite appearances, the environment is wholly favourable to the food sector even though there are considerable tasks in relation to reconstruction. Measures to accompany the structural adjustment plans must be instituted rapidly otherwise private cartels are likely to be set up which will not have the same duty to ensure food security for the population that the State formerly had.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page