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ECOWAS, FAO meeting to address food security in West Africa

Aug 25, 2011, 1:28 PM

The ECOWAS Commission and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have scheduled a consultative meeting at the commission’s secretariat in Abuja from 8th to 9th September 2011 to address the problem of volatile and soaring food prices in West Africa, a press release issued by ECOWAS Commission has revealed.

According to FAO figures, prices of all major commodity groups have risen in the world market, with West African countries witnessing seasonal increases in most staple foods, including livestock products, cooking oils and sugar, among others.

Flooding in a number of ECOWAS member states has also led to a drop in production in certain areas, thereby affecting local food security and with the post-election crisis in Cote d’Ivoire resulting in significant displacement of populations in the border regions, thereby contributing to hikes and increased volatility in many markets.

Given this situation, there is a growing recognition globally and in West Africa that measures to address the emerging food price crisis should be initiated immediately, taking into consideration the experiences and lessons learnt from the previous crisis.

The consultative meeting, the release added, will enable member states of ECOWAS and FAO to develop measures to address food price volatility on a sustainable basis, taking into account the current global financial crisis.

Participants will discuss lessons learned from the 2007-2008 food crises, during which millions of people in West Africa were unable to meet their minimum food requirement needs, as well as trade-related measures in favour of consumers or producers. 

They will also consider macro-economic, as well as institutional and process-related issues and propose ideas on the way forward.

The participants will include senior government officials from ECOWAS-FAO member states, including those from the ministries of Agriculture, the agency responsible for agricultural and market information, trade or financial planning, national food ministries and economic security agency. 

Representatives of regional inter-governmental institutions such as the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), the West African Food Industry Economic Operators Network (RESIMAO), development partners and donor agencies, and civil society are also expected to attend.