Experts seek ways to consolidate West Africa’s food security

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Stakeholders and Agricultural experts from the West African countries converged here on Tuesday for a Two-Day consultative meeting seeking ways to consolidate progress made so far on food security issues in the sub-region.

The Two-Day Learning Event dubbed ‘Catalytic Innovation for Agricultural Transformation’ will also provide a roadmap to spur the growth of the national and regional seed industry.

Opening the forum, Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture in charge of Crops Sagri Bambagi noted that the imbalance between high population growth and agricultural productivity in the sub-region was the cause of widespread food insecurity and poverty in the sub-region nearly a decade ago.

“These were evident in 2008 through numerous civil unrests in the region and in Africa as a whole. Improvement in agricultural productivity will take millions of people out of food insecurity and low income status to food secured and improved living standards status,” the deputy minister stressed.

The World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supported the Sub-regional bloc ECOWAS in implementing two mutually reinforcing flagship programs ; The West African Seed Program (WASP) and the West African Agricultural Productivity Program (WAPP) focusing on seven member states but with regulations throughout all 15 member countries in addition to Mauritania and Chad which are not in the sub-region.

“These programs have facilitated regional integration, exchange of genetic materials and the expansion of regional markets for both seeds and agricultural commodities,” Bambagi observed.

In Ghana specifically the deputy minister said the programs had helped in an improvement in the implementation of the ECOWAS Seed Regulations; Developing and monitoring of National Quarantine Pest List (NQPL) of evasive pests and diseases and to facilitate cross-border trade and seed imports, as well as a national plant variety catalogue with 161 crops species and varieties registered .

“The efficient application of the Integrated Soil Fertility and Water Management approaches alongside the use of quality and certified agriculture inputs and best practices in post-harvest technology will be essential to achieve the desired growth, bearing in mind that quality fertilizer and improved seed contribute 700 percent to agriculture productivity Improvement,” the minister added.

After 10 years of implementing the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) in January 2014 heads of State of the African Union meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea adopted the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth And Transformation for Shared Prosperity And Improved Livelihoods.

As part of the recent commitments, the AU Heads of State and Government committed to ending hunger by 2025 and to achieve this they further resolved to halve the current levels of post-harvest losses by the year 2025.

The Malabo Declaration is expected to help make adjustments to the implementation of the interventions to achieve accelerated growth in agriculture within 10 years of 2015 to 2025, while helping to achieve Sustainable Development Growth (SDG) targets 1-No poverty, 2-Zero hunger, 5-Gender Equality, 12-Responsible Consumption and 13-Climate Action.

Kapran Issoufou representing the President of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) noted: “We cannot talk about increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers without touching on the subject of quality seed.”

“Seed is a critical determinant of agricultural production on which depends the performance and efficiency of other inputs.” He stressed.

He said AGRA has in that regard delivered more than 500 new improved seed varieties which have been bred to suit local conditions for the continent as well as sponsoring over 600 PhDs, M.Scs and Lab Technicians with 40 percent being females for the continent. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh