Business News of Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Source: GNA

USAID Regional Boss roots for food security in West Africa

Dr Candace Buzzard, Regional Agriculture Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in charge of West Africa, has noted that food security in the sub-region must be regional rather than national.

Dr Buzzard said to be able to achieve this; there should be free movement of agricultural products across West Africa to forge true regional integration, adding that this can be effective with the expansion of awareness and enforcement of regulations.

She made the observation at a press briefing in Accra to inform the public about a three- day conference for civil societies and public and private institutions in West Africa, on the theme: “ Food Across Borders: Improving Food Security through Regional Trade in West Africa.”

Dr Buzzard said the conference is co-hosted by USAID and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

It is scheduled from January 29 to January 31 in Accra.

She said there is the need for private and public sectors, transporters and traders of West Africa’s agricultural staple foods to come together to convince public sector policy makers about the difficulties in free movement of agricultural produce.

Dr Buzzard noted that moving food from surplus to deficit areas and from where it is produced to areas where it is needed means crossing borders and is faced with delays.

She said the conference is being organised to address some of these challenges.

Dr Buzzard urged the media to sensitise the public to know their rights of free movement of agricultural goods.

She said the US supports West Africa in the increasing of regional trade in staple foods as key objectives dubbed: “West Africa Feed the Future Strategy.”

Dr Marc Atouga, ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resource, said the programme was designed to support ECOWAS’ leadership of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme, to implement regional policies to reduce barriers to trade and improve food security.

He urged participants to take advantage of the conference to power trade as an engine of growth and as a way to strengthen the resilience of households throughout the region.