The Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB); the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana; University of Liberia, Liberia and the Njala University, Sierra Leone are developing a curriculum that would help in building the capacity of African nations to embark on international agricultural trade negotiations and agreements. The project, Enhancing Capacity on International Agriculture Trade Agreements for Development of Regional Agriculture and Food Market,seeks to develop capacities and enhance competences in negotiation platforms for West Africa in bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.

According to the Team Leader in Nigeria and former Head of Department, University’s Agricultural Economics and Farm Management of FUNAAB, Professor Adewale Dipeolu, during a meeting with the University Management alongside the visiting team revealed that there was a challenge in the Agricultural industry which had to do with trade agreement. He noted that from time-to-time, African nations often traded in Agricultural commodities – export and import commodities – but not much had been achieved because they lacked the capacity to negotiate certain trade conditions and agreements effectively.He said the intention of the proposed collaboration was to find out how the four countries could develop a good curriculum that would facilitate the teaching of international trade with emphasis on international negotiation and trade agreements.

Speaking on the benefits of the partnership, Professor Dipeolu disclosed that when fully operational, FUNAAB would be able to develop a certificate course for officials in the ministries, Economic of West African States, farmers and others who work closely with trade bodies, to have a better understanding of the nature of trade agreements. He further stated that the countries involved in the curriculum development would have broader perspectives in agriculture trade negotiations by benefiting from the ECOWAS Agricultural Policies (ECOWAP).

The Team Leader said the project was in its first year and already working on the Needs Assessment to determine the gaps to find out, if there were people who could teach the course in the University system, if the curriculum for the programme already existed, and if government officials in the ministry of trade and industry were aware of such agreements. Professor Dipeolu disclosed that presently, Departments of Agricultural Economics in the South-West Universities in the country offered courses in international trade but do not incorporate issues on trade agreements and negotiations, which could be offered as a specialization areas at Master’s and PhD levels.