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Ministers to tackle food crisis in West Africa at Lome meeting

Jun 1, 2012, 1:19 PM

ECOWAS ministers in charge of agriculture, trade and regional integration and their counterparts in Chad and Mauritania are to meet in Lomé, Togo, on Tuesday 5th June 2012 to discuss and agree lasting solutions to the recurring food crisis in the region.

The one-day inter-ministerial meeting being co-financed by the ECOWAS Commission and the West African Monetary and Economic Union (UEMOA), is expected to produce regional decisions on the management and prevention of food crisis.

 According to official records, cereal production in the Sahel region of West Africa has declined by 9% compared to the 2010/2011agricultural season, although the figure shows a 5% increase over the last five years (2006/2010).

The decline is most acute in The Gambia (56% for 2010/2011 and 40% in 2006/2010), Chad (49%/22%), Senegal (36%/21%), Niger (31%/14%), Mauritania (34%/10%), and Burkina Faso (20%/5%), resulting in food shortages.

The objectives of the meeting include coordinating actions at the regional level for the implementation of sustainable measures to assist vulnerable populations, underscoring to the international community the urgent need for increased engagement and assistance to affected member states and increased resource mobilization and effective distribution of food.

Other objectives are to facilitate food distribution within the region, especially between countries with surplus and those in need, and to remove barriers to intra-community trade.

The aim is to extract the commitment of the ministers to the free movement of foodstuffs in the region, effective distribution of financial resources among states most affected by the food crisis, and to canvass increase in national budgetary allocations in 2012/13 to finance investment programmes for food security in the region.

The meeting will also be attended by representatives of the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) and other regional agriculture and food security institutions.