02.05.2005 General News

Common ECOWAS agric. policy fine-tuned

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Accra, May 2, GNA - Agriculture experts from West Africa are meeting in Accra to fashion an action plan towards the adoption and implementation of the ECOWAS Agriculture Policy (ECOWAP) approved by Heads of State earlier this year.

The Accra meeting, which precedes the ECOWAS Agriculture Ministers' summit on Tuesday, is a technical session to fine-tune the policy that the ministers will adopt.

The common agriculture policy is aimed at ensuring sustainable food security, judicious management of the sub-region's vast natural resources and decent reward for those engaged in agriculture, the back-bone of West Africa's economy.

The policy would also promote sustainable expansion in trade in agricultural products within and outside the region and further deploy it as a tool for poverty alleviation and employment.

ECOWAP was designed to improve the living conditions of the people, especially the rural populations, sustenance of the industrialisation process through availability of quality raw materials and the resuscitation of peasant farm family alongside mechanised farms. ECOWAS ministers of agriculture have already endorsed the policy, which was formulated in collaboration with relevant regional and international institutions at their Cotonou meeting held last January. Dr Remi Aribisala, Deputy Executive Secretary of ECOWAS in charge Integration Programmes, who chaired the meeting, stressed the need for improved quality and quantity of agricultural production within the sub-region.

She said it was time the sub-region made agriculture a priority programme through intensive actions that would promote agriculture and realise the objectives outlined in the ECOWAP.

Dr Aribisala told the experts that in fine-tuning the policy, efforts should also be made to improve on the processing of agricultural produce to make them competitive on the global market, saying they should ensure a divergence with other regional and international interventions in that respect.

She said the policy should also empower the youth and reposition women for more effective participation in rural wealth generation. Also participating in the meeting are stakeholders in the agriculture sector in the sub-region.

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