Lessons from promoting market access for Beninese value chain actors to Nigerian markets
The growing Nigerian market offers opportunities for Beninese value chain actors but they are faced with many challenges when they export to Nigeria. The ‘Approche Communale pour le Marché Agricole au Bénin‘ (ACMA) programme, launched in 2013, eases access to agricultural markets, particularly in Nigeria, to increase food security and enhance the incomes of smallholder farmers and other value chain actors in the Republic of Benin. This paper draws lessons from ACMA, which operates mainly at the local level, to inform national and regional policies and initiatives. It also explains and illustrates the importance of interventions at the various governance levels. Only through a combined top-down and bottom-up interactive process, actors can effectively seize opportunities for sustainable and inclusive regional value chain development and intra-regional trade. The paper presents concrete measures at the different levels to address key bottlenecks hindering agricultural trade from Benin to Nigeria. For example, at local level, dialogue between private sector actors and officials can be facilitated to raise awareness and address local issues related to cross-border trade, as ACMA does through communal and intercommunal consultation structures. At national level, there is a need to strengthen cooperation between ministries and other government entities involved in cross-border trade to address inefficiencies and inconsistencies. An example at regionallevel, could be the establishment by the ECOWAS Commission of an effective and operational regional e-platform for Certificates of Origin. This brief discusses many more concrete measures, for public and private actors to act upon.