Experts brainstorm on food security in West Africa

Lome, Togo (PANA) - Togo’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Mr. Kossi Messan Ewovor, has called on all stakeholders to put in place the necessary mechanism for strengthening food security through resource mobilization and support for agricultural investment programmes in West Africa.

Opening the Experts’ session of High-level Meetings on Food and Nutritional Crises in the region, on Monday, in Lome, the Togolese capital, the minister urged participants to recommend to regional ministers and Heads of State, “concrete, simple and fundable proposals that will directly and positively impact the people, especially the
vulnerable populations.”

He stressed the need to support men and women involved in agriculture with improved equipment and implements, and effective implementation of Regional Agricultural Programmes and various National Agricultural Investment Plans.

Ewovor noted that given the regional urgency and importance of food situation, the proposals and recommendations of the experts would be considered by upcoming summit meetings of ECOWAS and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA).

He affirmed the commitment and support of the Togolese Government to efforts at ensuring sustainable food security in the region and called on technical and financial partners to contribute to the success of regional initiatives.

Speaking in the same vein, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Dr. Marc Lapodini Atouga, said the availability of food as one of the basic human necessities was a fundamental human right, hence the need to develop a mechanism for structured and sustainable agricultural production in the region.

The population of the 15 ECOWAS member states is projected to increase to 350 million by 2020, and when Chad and Mauritania are added, the region’s population could hit more than 400 million by that date.

Consequently, Commissioner Atouga counselled that proactive regional and national agricultural policies were urgently needed to meet the demands of the rising population.

Another reason regional leaders have accorded agriculture the highest priority, he said, is the fact that a large majority of the region’s population is involved in the sector.

The Commissioner also explained that the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), placed a very high premium on agricultural development as a major pillar of regional integration, which is in consonance with the objectives of the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP).

Dr. Atouga then charged the experts to rigorously examine, among other things, ways to mobilize financial resources for strengthening actions on food assistance to vulnerable populations to complement measures being implemented by ECOWAS and UEMOA states and partners; concrete actions to strengthen food assistance to populations in northern Mali and neighbouring states affected by the conflict in that country.

Other objectives are to canvass the support of the international community for financial contributions to assist countries in need in the region; coordinating actions at the highest level for the prevention and management of food crises; implementation of structured interventions on food security through national agriculture investment plans and regional agricultural programmes; and urging member states to ensure free movement of persons and facilitating intra-community trade between countries with food surplus and those in need.

In his remarks, the UEMOA Commissioner for Rural Development, Natural Resources and Environment, Mr. Ibrahima Dieme, said the Union’s Agricultural Policy seeks to address poverty, improve income and better living conditions for farmers, and put in place sustainable food security mechanism in the region.

UEMOA, he said, has also set up a High-level Committee on food security headed by the President of Niger, Issoufou Mahamadou, charged with proposing lasting solutions to food crises in West Africa.

He urged the experts to make concrete recommendations to the ministers' meeting on Tuesday and the upcoming summit of regional leaders.

The High-level Meetings, which include an Inter-ministerial session on Tuesday, also in Lome, are being attended by member states of ECOWAS, UEMOA, the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), including Chad and Mauritania, as well as representatives of financial and technical partners.
-0- PANA PR/VAO 4June2012

04 Junho 2012 14:57:00

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