three-day regional food reserve strategy inception synergy was recently
organised by the Ministry of Agriculture, the West African regional bloc,
ECOWAS and the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (RAAF) held at Baobab
Resort Hotel in Bijilo.
Permanent secretary at the ministry of agriculture Lamin Camara said the ECOWAS region has experienced strong growth in agricultural production over the last 20 years when compared to the rest of the continent.
He said the growth of the main products generally followed the increase in demand brought by demographic growth. “But despite these gains, food insecurity remains a major challenge. FAO statistics indicate that more than 34 million people are undernourishment and the poorest and notably the most fragile or post- crisis states. These countries include The Gambia, Togo, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.”
According to PS Camara, the major structural factor of food insecurity remains the very high level of poverty in the region, saying despite the good level of growth in food available in the region, access to a diversified and sufficient food supply remain difficult for many poor households.
He said for more than a decade, the region has experienced a series of crises, the most striking of which are the food and nutrition crisis in Niger in 2004/2005, the hike in international prices in 2007/2008 particularly affecting the urban dwellers of the region and the pastoral crisis in 2009/2010.
Mr. Camara further stated that in the most critical cases, these phenomena contributed to extremely high levels of child malnutrition rates which regularly reach and exceed emergency thresholds set by international institutions like WHO and UNICEF.
“In 2017, the ministry of agriculture and ECOWAS signed a memorandum of understanding in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, setting the framework for collaboration between RAAF/ECOWAS and the Government of The Gambia. The agreement targets to implement the activities of the food security storage support programme in West Africa and to ensure constant and structured flow of information sharing on food security situation.”
According to PS Camara, The Gambia is among five countries that benefited from the project both financially and technically support in the implementation of its activities as encapsulated in the work plan 2019/2020. “Each country will learn lessons and share experiences while implementing the RAAF project.”