West Africa is home to a large number of Africa’s poor. In parts of the region, the incidence of hunger, malnutrition and poverty is among the highest in Africa. Over the past decade regional governments have pursued misconceived policies to achieve national food sovereignty, periodically imposing export bans, which exacerbate shortages and resulting in price rises for food in neighbouring countries. These policies failed to take advantage of complementarities between drier conditions in the North and tropical conditions in the South, which could increase the availability of food and reduce its cost across the region. As a result, the agricultural sector of each country had failed to fulfill its full potential. Nathan developed a market systems approach to enable DFID to demonstrate how greater and more sustainable regional trade in food could reduce food insecurity.

Focusing on trade between Nigeria and Niger, and between Ghana and Burkina Faso, Nathan helped develop a £15m, five-year support programme for regional staple food markets in West Africa.


  • Direct benefit for over 72,000 farmers and support for over 360,000 rural poor in targeted regions.
  • Increased annual productivity of 160 per cent for 3,000 farmers, through better input use.
  • Increased annual value addition of 20 per cent for 10,000 farmers through access to finance.
  • Investment in innovative new systems, including creating over 58,000 metric tonnes of warehouse receipt system (WRS) storage space by 2017.
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