Nelly Bassily | February 8, 2010
At the Gouro Adjamé market in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, women unload bananas from a truck. Isabelle Lou Kouhelou is one of them. She’s a trader who specializes in bananas. These days, she’s looking to expand her market.
A large percentage of Ivorian bananas are exported. Many to the European Union. But new trade regulations mean that Ivorian bananas will face greater competition. Tariffs have been lowered on bananas exported from Latin America to Europe. Ivorian banana producers expect a 14 per cent drop in European exports.
Some farmers and traders see a regional solution. They want to market their bananas to other West African countries to make up for losses in the European market.
Ms. Lou Kouhelou believes Cote d’Ivoire is well positioned to sell bananas to Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Senegal. She says she could buy a bunch of bananas locally for 300 CFA and re-sell it regionally for 2,000 CFA.
Doulaye Savadogo is a banana farmer in southern Cote d’Ivoire. He doesn’t want to wait for the European market to collapse. He plans to be proactive in seeking a regional market.
Mr. Savadogo is originally from Burkina Faso. He says that Burkinabes have a growing taste for bananas. It’s becoming a staple food product, so the market potential is strong.
To turn the idea of regional marketing into a reality, Ivorian banana farmers and traders may need help. Ms. Lou Kouhelou is concerned that road and railways problems in the region could hamper efforts for regional marketing. She says the government should support efforts to market Ivorian bananas to the region.