Ghana’s Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia has emphasised the importance of a regional food storage system for the ECOWAS sub-region in order to ensure food security, peace and accelerated development for the millions of people in West Africa and beyond.
Speaking at the virtual international conference on the West African Food Security Storage System in Accra on Monday, 10 May 2021, Dr Bawumia said although individual countries are making efforts toward ensuring local food security, a concerted, collective effort is important to ensure security for all.
“At a time when the global community, and, indeed, Africa, are reeling from the continuous threat and ravaging effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, this meeting is timely, and inspires great hope,” he stated.
“As we all know, the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of our food systems and our agriculture sectors in general”, Dr Bawumia noted.
He said: “In the last seven years, statistics suggests that [the number of] people facing food insecurity in the sub-region has exploded from two million to 27 million as of the end of our last cropping season”.
“This is unacceptable, especially when agriculture offers the best hope of liberating our economies from the chronic malaise that has characterised them over the years.”
Reminding the attendees, made up of Ministers of Agriculture of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States via virtual link of the historically close links between the countries, Dr Bawumia said the time to act collectively is now.
“We all know that our countries are endowed with virtually all the resources needed to propel economic development, with agriculture as the major driving force.
“We have arable land, human resource, water bodies, varieties of food crops and a relatively favourable climate condition. We, therefore, have no excuses”, he noted.
“This meeting is a call to action that presents an opportunity for sharing country experiences, knowledge and generating consensus on the way forward to building strategic stock reserves in the sub-region”, Dr Bawumia said.
“Our economies have strong linkages and therefore there is the need for building synergies in common areas of clear comparative advantage. We need stronger integration of our markets as promoted in the ECOWAS protocol to build the necessary resilience of our economies.
“Our plan to build a strategic food storage system for the sub-region is a step in the right direction towards addressing the dire situation of emerging hunger facing our people.”
Achieving this laudable objective would, however, require finance, Dr Bawumia underscored.
To this end, he expressed appreciation to the donor community comprising the European Union, French Development Agency, Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Bank, Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Swiss Development Cooperation and the German Development Cooperation, without whose support “the modest achievements we have made in our various countries may not have been possible.”
Charging the participants to come up with ideas that can withstand the test of time, Dr Bawumia emphasised: “The lessons of Covid-19 are too strong to ignore”, adding: “We have no choice than to be more forward-looking in our planning to deliver solutions to the problems that confront our people. The Government of President Akufo-Addo is in full support of the sub-regional effort to build strategic stocks of food reserves and to ensure food security in the region.”