Mr Gene A Cretz, United States Ambassador, has stated that African leaders need to advocate collective action to improve agricultural development and reduce poverty and hunger across the sub-region.
He indicated that regional trade is a critical piece of the efforts to improve food security in West Africa where stakeholders had identified mutual accountability as critical to improve trade flows and incomes across borders.
“Robust trade across the region would improve the nutritional status of those who would have increased access to essential food products in markets and communities where they were needed and are needed,” he added.
Mr Cretz was speaking at the on-going three days conference on Food Security in Accra.
It was on the theme: “Food Across Borders: Improving Food Security through Regional Trade in West Africa.”
He noted that the United States along with other development partners from G-8 countries in August 2012 launched the New Alliance for Food Security in Ghana where Ghana, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire participated in the sub-region as well as Tanzania, Ethiopia and Mozambique.
The Alliance was an outgrowth of action by G-8 leaders at their 2009 meeting in L’Aquila Italy and at subsequent G-8 summits including last year’s Camp David Summit hosted by President Barack Obama where world leaders committed themselves to sustainable agriculture development and safety nets for vulnerable populations.
The L’Aquila meeting gave world leaders the platform to pledge and work in partnership with African countries to provide sustainability in times of drought, flood, or poor yields and its short and long term benefits was to reduce poverty and increase nutrition among the youngest Africans who represent the future of the continent.
Mr Cretz said United States over the past five years had worked consistently to strengthen regional trade through its support to ECOWAS and USAID-sponsored Agribusiness and Trade Promotion project.
He said although the region has a bounty of agro-ecological zones which offers diverse crops harvested at different times, the production environment especially at the drier Sahel region was unpredictable hence the need to move from surplus to deficit areas.
The US Ambassador appealed to public and private sectors and other stakeholders to ensure better access in enforcing policies adopted to enable free movement of staple foods across borders.
We can work together with technical experts and governments to set quality standards of regionally traded food commodities in building alliances that combine competitiveness and social responsibility,” he said.
The Food Across Borders conference to improve food security and free movement of goods and services through regional trade in West Africa was opened on Tuesday, January 29.
The objective of the conference is to jump-start the actions needed to unleash the full potential of regional trade to help safeguard food security in the future.