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West African Papers

The West African Papers series explores African socio-economic, political and security dynamics from a regional and multidisciplinary perspective. It seeks to stimulate discussion and gather information to better anticipate the changes that will shape future policies. The series is designed for a wide audience of specialists, development practitioners, decision makers and the informed public. Papers are available in English and/or French, and summaries are available in both languages. Initiated by the Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC) to highlight and promote West African issues, the work presented is prepared by its Secretariat, Members and partners, other OECD departments, related international organisations, associated experts and researchers.

English French

Agriculture, Food and Jobs in West Africa

The food economy is the biggest employer in West Africa accounting for 66% of total employment. 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. This paper quantifies and describes the structure of employment in the food economy across four broad segments of activities: agriculture, processing, marketing and food-away-from home. It also examines some of the emerging spatial implications, in particular rural-urban linkages and rural employment diversification, which are related to the transformations that are reshaping this sector. Finally, it looks at policy considerations for designing targeted employment strategies that leverage the links between agricultural productivity, off-farm employment and rural-urban areas and ensure inclusiveness, particularly for youth and women.

English French

Keywords: value chains, youth, food system, women, employment
JEL: J21: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demand and Supply of Labor / Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure; Q18: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Agriculture / Agricultural Policy; Food Policy; J43: Labor and Demographic Economics / Particular Labor Markets / Agricultural Labor Markets; O11: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Economic Development / Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development; Q13: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Agriculture / Agricultural Markets and Marketing; Cooperatives; Agribusiness
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