ECOWAS, FAO sign food security accord

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- ECOWAS and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Tuesday signed a technical assistance agreement on food security worth 558,000 US dollars.
An ECOWAS release said the amount is for a two-year project for the "Strengthening and Co-ordination of Information Systems on Food Security, Vulnerability and Food Trade in ECOWAS Member States.
" Under the accord, FAO will provide 395,000 dollars, while the balance would be contributed by the Nigeria-based sub-regional Community.
"The project is to improve trade and reduce the risk of food insecurity by collecting, processing, analysing, managing, disseminating and using information to promote food security," the release said.
More specifically, the assistance will contribute to the preparation of the preliminary phase for the implementation of a regional food security information system by co-ordinating and supporting a database starting from information already available at the national level and/or through existing networks.
It will also produce a scheme for a sub-regional food security information system, monitor the trade in agricultural products and define the components and mechanisms for operating such a system.
The assistance is expected to help ECOWAS formulate a consolidated project document covering the necessary technical and financial assistance required on the longer term to effectively set up and guarantee the continuity of a sub-regional system for food security information and agricultural products trade monitoring.
The ECOWAS Executive Secretary Lansana Kouyate and the FAO's Representative in Nigeria, Hashim Ashami, initialled the agreement for the organisations.
Kouyate expressed appreciation to the FAO, saying that the support would boost the ECOWAS' programme on food security.
According to him, the people of West Africa "need the support of the FAO since they cannot continue to live on foreign assistance," with more than 70 percent of the sub-region's population living below the poverty line.
Ashami lauded ECOWAS' progress in economic and other areas of integration, and reiterated the FAO's support to ensuring food security in all aspects, including production, trade and marketing, in West Africa.
He expressed delight at the level of co-operation between the two organisations, saying that by strengthening the information system, the project would also help policy makers in reaching the right decisions.
The West African sub-region suffers inadequacies on food information, compounded by insufficient qualified human resources and poor inter-agency co-ordination.

27 november 2001 23:01:00

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