Accra, The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has stocked over 11,180 tonnes of cereals in selected member countries to serve as a buffer stock to feed countries in the sub-region in case of emergency.
Among the stock are millet, maize, sorghum and rice, which are currently stored in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.
ECOWAS is to purchase additional 21,000 more tonnes of cereals soon, to support efforts at feeding the countries and ensuring food security.
In addition to this first physical stock, ECOWAS, with the support of the Europe-funded project, was able to express regional solidarity to Nigeria by supporting the Federal Government efforts towards facing the food and nutrition crisis that prevails in the northeast of the country, namely; in Borno, Gombe, Adamawa and Yobe states with 1,130 tonnes of cereals.
ECOWAS is proud to be in the forefront of this fight, Mr Ousseini Salifou, the Executive Director of the ECOWAS Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (RAAF), announced on behalf of Mr Tchambakou Assayor, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, in Accra.
He said those were part of the significant achievement that had been recorded on the ground as part of the construction of the Regional Food Security Reserve of ECOWAS, being championed by the sub-regional heads of state and implemented by a Technical Management Unit under the RAAF of ECOWAS.
Mr Salifou, at the opening of the annual meeting of member states, said the 42nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments, in 2013 in Yamoussoukro, CAte d’Ivoire, enacted a Supplementary Act establishing the Regional Food Security Reserve of ECOWAS.
He said in support of the Food Security Reserve initiative, the European Union Commission granted the ECOWAS Commission Euros 56 million to implement the Project in support of the Regional Food Security Storage Strategy.
In view of that, the heads of state and governments adopted a set of rules and procedures allowing the Region to have a common instrument to adequately respond to food and nutrition crises, through a regional reserve made up of a physical stock and a financial component.
The meeting, therefore, involved the Members of the Network of National Food Security Storage Companies and Agencies (RESOGEST), aimed at reporting on the implementation status of the Regional Food Security Reserve in general and, in particular, on the involvement of national food security storage companies in the activities of Component II of the Support Project.
Professor Koffi-Tessio, the Coordinator of the EU-funded Project, said the Support Project focused on the strengthening of the capacities of national stocks companies.
Dr. Sagre Bambangi, the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, on behalf of the Government, pledged Ghana’s commitment to contributing to the implementation of the Regional Food Reserve, which aims at complementing the efforts of member states to provide rapid and diversified food and nutrition assistance to the countries.
He said the project also signified the expression of regional solidarity with member states and affected populations through transparent, fair and predictable mechanisms, and contributing to food sovereignty and to political, economic, and commercial integration of West Africa.
He said through the National Food Buffer Stock Company, Ghana had already provided some warehouses in Yendi for the storage of part of the products of the Regional Food Reserve, saying; Ghana is ready to contribute more in this regional initiative.
He said the second annual meeting of member states, therefore, provided an opportunity to strengthen collaboration between storage companies, ECOWAS, CILSS and producer organisations that played a key role in the implementation of the regional food security storage strategy.
Mr Youssouf MaA�ga, the President of RESOGEST, said; With the increased knowledge we have on the support project and on our role in the implementation of the Regional Food Security Reserve, we wish to fully contribute in the development of the regional solidarity instrument towards managing food and nutrition crises in the Region.
He expressed the hope that the meeting would enable participating countries to recommit to speed up the contracting process between ECOWAS and member states through the signing of MoUs for cooperation and the preparation of annual work plans and budgets to quickly benefit from the EU-funded project support to countries.
Created in 2011, RAAF is responsible for coordinating and facilitating activities related to the implementation of the Regional Agricultural Policy.
Source: Ghana News Agency