Forum on food security in West Africa and the Sahel opens in Accra

The 26th edition of the Annual Food Crisis Prevention Network, which serves as the platform for deliberation on food production and food security in Africa has opened in Accra.

The forum on the theme: “Animal Husbandry and Food Security in the Sahel and West Africa” will analyze the agricultural and food situation for the 2010/2011 cropping season and come out with measures on tackling food crises.

Addressing the opening session on Tuesday, Professor Alhousseini Bretaudeau, Executive Secretary of Permanent Inter State Committee for the Control of Drought in the Sahel (CILSS), noted that livestock contributed an estimated 44 per cent of the agricultural GDP in the Sahel and West Africa, therefore, the need to give the sector the deserved attention.

“It is a source of income and contributes to reducing food insecurity through the provision of macro and micro-nutrients such as protein, calcium, vitamins and zinc,” he added.

The three-day forum is being attended by food security actors from the two regions and representatives from development cooperation agencies such as FAO, ECOWAS, UNICEF, WFP and Oxfam.

Prof Bretaudeau called for more political support and investments in the livestock sector to overcome challenges such as climate variability, low productivity and restrictions on its trade in the Sub-Region.

Professor Bretaudeau appealed to governments and food security organisations within the regions to put in place early detection systems for drought and other food crises in order to mitigate the common food crisis that usually plagued countries.

He mentioned drought and flood as the two major causes of food crises on the continent and cited Niger and Chad as some of the countries prone to food crises.

Professor Kofi Awoonor, Chairman of Council of State, cited low irrigation development and management, lack of modern methods of farming, inadequate infrastructure, lack of markets for goods and human resources as some of the challenges facing farming on the continent.

He called for an increase in the production of animal products to keep pace with the increasing demand, which had come about due to population growth and urbanisation.

Professor Awoonor called for more support for the livestock sector to play its role appropriately and generate more income for farmers and the countries.

He commended the Government for subsidizing fertilizer and agricultural machinery to farmers and establishing an agricultural fund to scale up credit support to farmers and processors to boost production, processing and adding value to agriculture in the country.

“In Ghana, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) is spearheading government’s agricultural interventions and investments by collaborating with relevant stakeholders in an effort to raise the food and nutritional status of the country,” he added.

Professor Awoonor praised the World Food Programme (WFP) for partnering MOFA for the introduction of the Purchase for Progress (P4P) project, which would enhance the livelihood of small scale farmers by purchasing from them directly.

“For 2008/2009, the WFP purchased from farmers over 10 million dollars worth of food commodities and are currently exporting 6,400 metric tonnes of maize worth about two million dollars to Niger to assist ameliorate the food crisis in that country,” he stated.

Professor Awoonor called for closer collaboration between governments and other organisations in the fight against food crises that usually plagued countries on the continent.

Nii Amassah Namoale, Deputy Minister of Agriculture in-charge of Fisheries praised the organisers for choosing Ghana to host this year’s forum.

He called for measures to mitigate the annual spillage of the Bagre Dam, which destroyed farms in communities along the spillway.

Source: GNA

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