The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has developed a 10-year Regional Agricultural Investment Plan (RAIP), to address emerging issues, such as climate change, nutrition and gender aspects of agriculture, towards promoting food security in West Africa.
The Director of Environment, ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Johnson Boanuh, speaking at the two-day Consultative Regional Committee for Agriculture and Food workshop, said the new or second generation RAIP, precedes the commission’s initial five-year plan. This is aimed at identifying agricultural excesses in the region, and ensuring distribution of the excesses to areas within countries and the region that suffer food shortages.
With the 10-year plan, which will run from 2016 to 2025, the region has identified seven emerging global agriculture issues, new ideas, and aims to integrate these issues into the plan for perusal and adoption by ECOWAS member states.
According to Boanuh, “with the current plan, we will consider various gender groups, the nutrition aspect – an important aspect that will help us produce nutritionally balanced foods that address a lot of health challenges, ensuring people are fed at the right time, with the right food, which prevents diseases.
“It also factors in the effects of climate change on food production and availability. Climate Change has become an emerging global issue. Therefore, we are paying serious attention to climate smart agriculture – which looks at how to make our agriculture responsive to climate challenges.”
To guarantee an encompassing approach, ECOWAS has helped member countries in establishing National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIP), which dovetails with the RAIP. Funds are mobilised by member states government, and with development partners within the states, as well as across the region.
Boanuh also said that ECOWAS has set-up a Regional Agricultural Agency, located in Lomé, Togo, where mobilised funds will be managed by the agency and made available to various national groups to assist in the improvement of their agricultural productivity.
Identifying the successes of the five-year RAIP plan, Boanuh added that there has been a general increase in cereal production, agriculture information systems, animal husbandry and animal health approaches.
He, however, noted that only member states can identify their peculiar successes, via productivity increase, within the last five years.