Sunday, March 3, 2013

All-inclusive approach needed to address food insecurity in West Africa

A RICE FARM: Countries like Japan have invested heavily on food production, especially rice, and are giving out to poor African countries  (Photo credit: Facts and Details)

The attainment of food and nutrition security in the West African sub-region requires an all-inclusive approach in which civil society and farmer-based organisations have a crucial role to play, Ernest Aubee says.
The Principal Programme Officer ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, said these stakeholders must ensure that the region moves from one of food deficit to that of food surplus.

Mr Aubee was speaking at a three-day sub-regional council and board meeting in Banjul organised by the west African Network of Peasants and Producers Association (ROPPA) and the National Coordination Organization of Farmers Association in the Gambia (NACOFAG) in collaboration with Aub-Rural, a sub-regional civil society organization.

The 22-25 Feb., 2013 meeting aims to renew commitment and reflect on the importance of policy linkages on the ECOWAS-Policy on Agriculture (ECOWAP) and the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) and to accelerate the implementation of actions at the regional level.

Top priority

Addressing the challenges of food and nutrition security remains a top priority if countries are to achieve continental and global development commitments and targets such as the CAADP and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Mr Aubee said.

He explain that the complexities of the agricultural sector which are further compounded by issues of climate change, global economic imbalances, skewed terms of trade and growing levels of inequality and poverty - calls for a more innovative and concerted approach to agricultural development in west Africa. 

“The ECOWAS Commission since 2003 has taken bold steps to put in place a holistic policy for the development of the agricultural and rural sectors of West Africa,” he said.

A number of notable achievements have been registered in terms of increased interest and investment in the agricultural sector at both the regional and national levels, however, Mr Aubee noted that such initiatives are designed to fast track the implementation of the RAIP - Rural Agricultural Investment Programme and to serve as a platform for the acceleration of the National Agricultural Investment Programmes (NAIPs). 

Race against time

These policies and programmes are meant to ensure robust and sustainable structures that can address the long-term food security needs of West Africa in a holistic and sustainable manner, he said.

He said in the face of the multiple and complex challenges of food and nutrition security in the region, member countries must “race against time” by bringing all hands on deck in order to achieve concrete and lasting results.

The deputy permanent secretary Gambia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Alphu Marong noted that this process is conducted in line with the CAADP guidelines and concerns raised by Heads of State and Governments of the region.

The promotion of such initiatives is to expedite the implementation of ECOWAP and enhance the resilience of vulnerable populations exposed to recurring and structural food and nutritional crises, he said.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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