Grain is an important staple in the food basket of the world. Its average consumption has increased over recent decades, especially rice and wheat in the West African region. West Africa’s grain demand is constantly increasing and as such, it relies on grain imports. The relative dependence on grain imports to compliment the mismatch between supply and demand for the region has raised security concerns in the wake of the recent global events. The rising food price resulting from climate related changes, use of grains for bio fuels and the increase in population, has also contributed to these security concerns. The access to grains in West Africa is a security concern. Therefore, to ensure food security, optimisation of grain production is critical. When one compares West Africa’s position to Asia and some Latin America countries, these countries have proven that optimisation of their grain production have had a positive impact on improving their food security. Several studies and reports have stressed the importance of improving domestic production for self -sufficiency and reliability. In addition, improvement of production can also reduce vulnerability to the denial of imports from other trading partners for the purpose of their selfsufficiency. Other studies have also stressed the importance of improving policy resilience and adaptation capacity to changing market trends. It is expected that, the West Africa region with its endowment in arable land, can focus on optimising its potential in grain production to minimize the relative dependence on imports and reduce its subsequent vulnerability. These studies have shown that grain optimisation can have a positive impact on reducing import dependence of the region. In this regard, the concept of grain optimisation to improve food security was developed as the thesis for this work. The study objectives is to understand grain imports growth over time and the characteristics of West Africa import dependent countries and their sources of supply, whilst examining the determining production and location factors of imports and the factors that need improvement to enhance grain optimisation and food security for the region. This thesis centers around an analysis of location and production factors of grain cultivation to identify the determinant elements, which have significant impact on the optimisation of grain production. The dominant elements in these factors are institutions ability, infrastructure services, education and technology. The elements also include agricultural indicators such as percentage of arable land, yield per hectare and production quantity. Finally the thesis will show that these determinant elements have a great impact on investment and policy decision relative to grain production and sufficiency. The study relied on the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) dataset to analyse growth trends in import, export and grain production in West Africa and the rest of the world over the period 2002-2011. Another source of data analysis used was that from the Global Competitive Index (GCI), which is based on the overall competitiveness and resilience capacity of the region. In order to identify the significant determining factors, the methodology and techniques used were quantitative analysis for the descriptive research and a deterministic model (pooled OLS) and fixed and random effect model for the explanatory section. The descriptive section focused on the growth in imports, exports and production over time. Access to technology, availability of scientific research institutions, extent of market dominance among other indicators were analysed with the regression models in the explanatory section.

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Wall, R., Stavropoulos, S.
Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies

Ghana, N.B. (2014, September). The Space and Place of Food. Retrieved from