Business News of Thursday, 24 April 2014
Dr Lapodini Marc Atouga, ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water on Wednesday called for a more comprehensive and holistic solutions to the problems of food and nutrition insecurity in the region.
He said there is the need for continued reflection and thinking on how best to fast track solutions to the problems confronting Africa to become hunger free within a reasonable time frame.
Dr Atouga made the call in Accra at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for West Africa Regional Partners forum under the theme: “Transforming Agriculture and Food Security through Regional and National Cooperation and Integration.”
He said years after the coming into force of the ECOWAS Protocol on free movement of goods and services, road harassment and export restrictions had been identified as among the top five barriers to regional trade in West Africa.
Dr Atouga said the sub-regional body would channel more energy into monitoring to clear the obstacles affecting trade in the sub-region.
He, however, said a lot also depended on the individual states to create the needed environment to improve on the movement of goods and services across the sub-region.
The Commissioner said a taskforce would be established to follow up on every single issue raised and ensure the support of regional governments to remove the many constraints to free movement of the region's staple commodities.
Dr Candace Buzzard, Regional Agriculture Office Director of USAID, in Charge of West Africa, said the conference was also to deepen collaboration among West African Organizations, Regional and Bilateral Missions.
She said it would also identify opportunities to increase coordination among USAID/West Africa implementing partners.
According to her, the USAID was advancing global food security by helping to improve the most basic of human conditions - the need that families and individuals have a reliable source of quality food and sufficient resources - to support global stability and prosperity.
Dr Buzzard said the USAID had instituted a programme dubbed: ‘Feed the Future’ aimed at reducing the prevalence of poverty by 20 per cent and the prevalence of stunted growth in children under five years of age by 20 per cent in the region.
She said the programme supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth that will increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty and under nutrition.
Dr Buzzard said the Feed the Future programme draws on the strengths of agencies across the U.S Government and leverages resources and efforts with multilateral organizations, NGOs, the private sector, research institutions and other stakeholders to accelerate inclusive agricultural growth.
The forum brought together stakeholders, government officials, regional organizations, business associations, financial institutions and development partners to build synergies that address regional challenges in agriculture, trade and economic growth.