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Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has proposed increased investment in the agricultural sectors of various countries in the sub-region to ensure food security.

“There should be greater investment from local, national and international contributors towards ensuring the provision of improved seeds and other agricultural supplies and equipment to farmers for expanded cultivation of food-crops.

“This can increase access to food, with a positive impact on the nutritional status of the most vulnerable population,” Mrs. Maria Helena Senedo, Assistant Director-General, Regional Representative for Africa, FAO, told B&FT in Accra on the sidelines of a three-day special training session for 15 FAO representative countries in the West African sub-region.

Mrs. Senedo said: “The overall goal of the sub-regional office for West Africa (SFW) is to achieve by 2015, sustained rural poverty reduction and food security through a broad-based growth based on agricultural production, productivity and diversification as well as household incomes, with focus on smallholders and vulnerable groups while thoroughly addressing the pervasive gender inequalities, marginalisation of minority groups as well as the inequalities between territories, areas and countries.”

Mrs. Senedo disclosed that the meeting will focus on analysing opportunities and need for capacity building of decentralised authorities, sub-regional organisations, national representation and institutions. This will enhance the FAO West Africa Office’s operational and managerial capacities for informed programme-planning and effective delivery. It will as well review emerging challenges in funding, food availability, accessibility and other agricultural issues as well as the issue of climate change.

The training session aims to discuss critical issues, challenges facing the sub-region in relation to the various crisis and food security, and brainstorm on best approaches within the medium- and long-term to ensure dealing with the situation.

Mr. Musa Saihou Mbenga, sub-regional coordinator for West Africa, FAO, observed that in spite of a few pockets of success recorded, West Africa remains home to the poorest and most malnourished of the world: Agriculture and the food sector provide 70% of the sub-region’s full employment, one third of the GDP, and 40% of export earning; but up to 44% of the world’s 32 countries with the lowest Human Development Index, approximately 38% of the world’s 34 least developed countries, are in West Africa.

He revealed that the FAO Africa is currently undertaking different pilots in the region: such as the cassava value-chain development in Ghana and DR. Congo, as well as maize in Uganda and Angola, with the view to better tailor, reinforce and re-organise its operations in the field.

“It was important that a multi-disciplinary approach was adopted for programmes and to identify priority areas of action for the organisation in the sub-region so as to ensure food security,” Mr. Mbenga remarked.

Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture, in a speech read on his behalf, indicated that the country has initiated projects targeted at ensuring food security -- especially in conflict and crisis areas. “The projects will help alleviate poverty among vulnerable groups that might suffer as a result of conflict and in cases of disaster.

“The imminent Sahel food crisis is putting several millions of lives at risk. It requires from each of us an immediate and vigorous preparedness and response. If not adequately addressed this crisis will be worse than the 2005 food crisis, causing significant asset and human capital loss and jeopardising all the development achievements capitalised to date.”
Source: B&FT

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