ECOWAS solicits international support on food security

Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- The Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, has appealed for additional international support to enable the sub-region pursue its priority programmes on food sufficiency for its 220 million citizens.
In a speech at the World Food Summit in Rome Tuesday, Chambas said ECOWAS is interested in partnerships with the FAO and other UN agencies as well as multilateral and bilateral agencies to address the sectoral priority programmes enunciated by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
In the speech released by the ECOWAS Secretariat in Abuja, he said the implementation of the programmes was necessary to increase agricultural productivity in the sub-region.
Chambas described West Africa as one of the world's greatest development challenges, with economic indices that include an area of six million square metres, one of the highest population growth rates in the world and one of the lowest levels of human capital development.
Chambas, leading a five-member ECOWAS delegation to the Summit, said the problems of agriculture, which accounts for 36 percent of the Community's GDP and employed 54 percent of the active population, transversed national boundaries and required a regional approach.
While the sub-region has recorded considerable success in agricultural production, the ECOWAS boss said it remained an importer of large quantities of cereals, livestock products and fish, in spite of its natural endowments.
He listed factors inhibiting food production in the sub-region as greater dependence on rainfall, lack of access to improved technologies, low labour productivity, lack of incentives for improving and sustaining productivity, insufficient infrastructure and limited institutional capacity.
Chambas said the problems had been compounded by trade liberalisation, which has eroded market access for most West African States under the World Trade Organisation WTO-induced reform, which has saddled ECOWAS member States with difficulties in attaining a sustainable level of agricultural trade and food security.
He said food security remains a priority to the Community because of the rising aggregate food demand in the sub-region in relation to the population growth.

11 june 2002 18:30:00

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