When agriculture and trade align, change happens for incomes and economies
Amid raucous and resonating bird song, Alieu Faye gestures to indicate a mass of cashew seedlings neatly organized in separate containers. Standing in his nursery across the river from Banjul in northern Gambia, he explains how this fertile space came to be.
“We used to grow cashews just on the ground without nursing them, so we lost a lot of trees due to bugs eating them… We also used to grow the cashews very close to one another so the yield used to be very poor, because they always competed for the sun,” he said.
“But now, when we space them, we have more yields and better quality.”
For many of the poorest countries in the world, agriculture is the backbone of the economy, supporting families, small businesses and national commercial concerns. Yet it is this same sector that has the potential for even greater impact, with yields often not optimal, processing abilities poor, market connections lacking and export ability minimal.
For Least Developed Countries (LDCs) rich with arable land and a keen workforce, there is a range of possibilities to improve incomes and spur development via trade in agricultural products. But achieving results requires synchronization of government policy, links across sectors, research-based strategies, investment in farmers like Faye – and financing. Meaning, success is possible, but getting there can be complicated.