The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission has begun the implementation of the Regional Food Security Reserve strategy with a 56-million euros funding from the European Union (EU).
So far, 11,180 tonnes of millet, maize, sorghum and rice have been stored in warehouses in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria for rapid deployment in times of crisis.
The project, initiated by the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, is to have a common instrument to adequately respond to food and nutrition crisis in the sub-region through a regional reserve made up of both physical stock and a financial component.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, announced this in a speech read on his behalf at the opening of the second annual meeting of ECOWAS member states and the Network of National Food Security Storage Companies and Agencies (RESOGEST) and actors in West Africa and the Sahel in Accra on Wednesday.
He said Ghana was committed to contributing to the implementation of the strategy, which aims at complementing the efforts of member states to provide rapid and diversified food and nutrition assistance for member states and affected populations through transparent, fair and predictable mechanisms.
In Ghana, Dr Akoto said, agriculture was recognised as the mainstay of the economy, with a greater impact on poverty reduction than other sectors.
In line with that, he said, it was the vision of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) to modernise agriculture, culminating in a structurally transformed economy.
He stated that as part of the government’s efforts towards feeding Ghanaians and contributing to food security and nutrition in the sub-region, the ministry was currently implementing the Planting for Food and Jobs programme to revamp the agricultural sector in the country.
The minister said in anticipation of increases in food production in the coming years, the National Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) was going to play a major role in stabilising food prices and ensuring the availability of food all-year round and in emergency situations.
He said through NAFCO, Ghana had already provided some warehouses in Yendi for the storage of part of the stock of the Regional Food Security Reserve.
Dr Akoto said for the construction of the Regional Food Security Reserve, the role of national security storage companies and agencies under the network of RESOGEST was key, as that would facilitate the contribution of member states and increase their involvement in the implementation of the support project.
Dr Akoto indicated that the annual meeting was quite timely, as it offered a platform for exchanges and discussions among national food security storage companies and agencies, at a time when many countries in the sub-region were in the process of elaborating the second generation of the National Agricultural investment Programmes as part of the implementation of the regional agricultural policy (ECOWAP).
The minister expressed his appreciation to the EU for the financial support and the other development partners for their technical support towards the establishment of a food and nutrition security reserve in the sub-region.
For his part, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Mr Tchambakou Assayor, said significant achievements had been recorded on the ground as part of the construction of the Regional Food Security Reserve.
The co-ordinator of the EU-Funded Project, Professor Kofi Tessio, said the meeting was aimed at reporting the implementation status of the regional food security reserve in general and the involvement of national food security storage companies.
Source: Daily Graphic
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