ECOWAS, MOFA To Secure Food Storage System

 

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Economic Community of West African States are taking steps to secure food storage system in West Africa.

On Monday, May 10, 2021, ECOWAS and MoFA held the closing ceremony of the international conference on food storage system in West Africa.

The conference fell within the capitalization of the EU-funded Support Project to the West African Food Security Storage System which allowed effective kick-off in 2015 of the operationalization of the West African Food Security Storage Strategy.

In his keynote address, Vice President of Ghana, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia said statistics in the last seven years submitted during international forums suggested that the number of people struggling with food insecurity in the sub region has exploded from 2 million to 27 million as at the end of the last cropping season, a situation he described as worrying.

“This is unacceptable, especially when agriculture offers the best hope of liberating our economies from the cropping malaise that has characterised them over the years. We all know that our countries are endowed with virtually all the resources needed to propel economic development with agriculture as the major driving force. We have arable land, water resources, water bodies and varieties of food crops so we therefore have no excuse, the vice president said.

He used the opportunity to call on all to join hands in working to strengthen food security in the sub region by saying, “This meeting is a call to action that presents an opportunity for sharing country experiences, knowledge and generating consensus on the way forward to building strategic stock of reserves in the sub region. Our economies have strong linkages and so, there is the need for building synergies in common areas of clear comparative advantage”.

The Ministers in charge of Agriculture and Food Security of ECOWAS have recognised the need to ensure strong integration and coherence between the food security storage policy, the desire to secure basic food supplies for the population by promoting local products, nutritional and social protection policies for the most vulnerable households.

The minister of food and agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto while delivering his closing address at the conference which was held on Monday, 10th May, 2021 at the Kempinski hotel in Accra, said the Ministers of the Specialized technical Committee on Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources of the ECOWAS member states meeting examined the food and nutritional security situation in the region as well as the conclusions of the International Conference on the Regional Food Security Storage System.

The conference reinforced the relevance for the region of having food security stocks at the local, national and regional levels to ensure adequate food supplies for the population.

According to the minister, the ministers noted that despite the region’s efforts to develop agriculture and the progress made towards achieving the goals of eliminating hunger and malnutrition, our region is still faced with a difficult food situation for more than 27 million people. This situation, which is linked largely to natural disasters, drought, locust invasions, the army worm and the various security crises in the region, has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced the food supply channels in the various markets of our Member States.

The Ministers reaffirmed the relevance of the establishment of strategic food security reserves at the local, national and regional levels, as defined in the Supplementary Act establishing and operating the Regional Food Security Reserve (RFSR); the relevance, complementarity and effectiveness of the three lines of defense of the storage system.

The Minister of Food and Agriculture added that the Ministers of the Specialized technical Committee on Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources of the ECOWAS after their examination on food and national security pledged to commit individually and collectively to mobilize and allocate significant resources to strengthen and expand community and private storage in order to achieve SDG 2 (Eliminate Hunger, Achieve Food Security, Improve Nutrition, and Promote Sustainable Agriculture), build and increase a national food security stock.

He added that, the Ministers will renew their commitment to allocate 5% of their national stock through the Network of Companies or Bodies in charge of the Management of National Food Security Stocks in the Sahel and West Africa (RESOGEST) in solidarity with Member States affected by severe food crises.

Dr Afriyie Akoto said the ministers are urging the technical and financial partners (EU, AFD, AECID, IFAD, USAID, WFP, FAO, AfDB, EBID, DDC, DFID, GIZ,) to support the efforts of local populations in their local resilience mechanisms, support the strengthening of the intervention capacities of food reserves: the building of local and national stocks and the Regional Food Security Reserve and give priority in their support to the dynamics of local food purchases in order to strengthen the resilience of local agri-food systems.

Sharon Brown-Acquah