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Abstract

We use recent data on transport costs in West Africa, including the added burden of bribes and enforced delays, to show how such costs represent a deterrent to investment in — and therefore the sustainability of — agricultural assets. We focus on data for two important tree crops in West Africa, cashew and shea. We also have data for the transport of onions between Niger and the urban market in Accra, Ghana. Our data allow us to predict plausible increases in farm-gate prices from a reduction in transport costs and bribes. A 10% reduction in the total transport costs (actual costs plus corruption costs) of onions from Niger could result in a 12-13% price increase to onion farmers. Similar elasticities are 2% for cashew in Ghana and 7% for shea in Mali. These feasible price increases would encourage farmers to improve onion production, and to protect and improve production from cashew and shea trees, thereby enhancing the sustainability of agro-forestry in West Africa. We call these price increases the “sustainability dividend”.