REGIONAL AGENCY FOR AGRICULTURE AND FOOD
AGENCE RÉGIONALE POUR L'AGRICULTURE ET L'ALIMENTATION
AGÊNCIA REGIONAL DA AGRICULTURA E ALIMENTAÇÃO
Freetown, Sierra Leone, 31 March 2017: From 27 through 31 March 2017, agriculture officials and experts from five English-speaking member countries of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) gathered in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, for a training session in the formulation and costing of agricultural investment projects.
The training was organized by the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (RAAF) of ECOWAS with technical support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through the project " Capacity Building for ECOWAP Implementation", which is funded by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECID).
Held at the Golden Tulip-Bintumani Hotel in Aberdeen, Freetown, this regional training workshop brought together ten (10) experts involved in the projects formulation from ministries in charge of agriculture in The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Ghana. Other participants came from some FAO national offices and the ECOWAS Directorate for Agriculture and Rural Development.
In his official opening remarks on behalf of the Sierra Leone’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, the National Program Coordinator in the Strategic Advisory Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Khalil Jah noted that the regional training fully and timely falls within the approach and the perspective of the region that is to mobilize enough resources for the implementation of the ECOWAP 2025.
Mr. Jah reminded participants that the development of the second generation of the National Agricultural Investment and Food Security and Nutrition Programs (NAIPs) is in progress and shall be completed by June 2017 and ready for validation in all ECOWAS Member States. “For their implementation, resources mobilization is key. That is why this regional training is very important for achieving the objectives we set to ourselves in the framework of ECOWAP 2025”, he added.
The FAO Representative to Sierra Leone, Mrs. Nyabenyi Tipo stated that FAO leads actions at both national and regional levels to build the capacity of all key actors involved in the improvement of food and nutrition security in West Africa.
“I am convinced that agricultural investment projects resulting from the National Agricultural Investment and Food Security and Nutrition Programs (NAIP-SSN) will be the main tool for resource mobilization and for concrete outcomes for the ECOWAS population”, she maintained.
She pledged that FAO will continue to work hand in hand with ECOWAS for improving their formulation skills and qualities for the success of ECOWAP 2025.
The Head of the Technical Unit for the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (RAAF), Dr Ablasse Bilgo representing the Executive Director of RAAF explained that, this training will increase the capacity of the ECOWAS member states for the formulation of investment projects to mobilize funds for the second generation of ECOWAS regional agricultural policy.
“Since 2015, RAAF has contributed to capacity building of the ministries in charge of agriculture in the 15 countries of ECOWAS. So far, 450 persons have been trained on climate change and agricultural project formulation and 300 persons on social safety nets”, he added.
The training is conducted on theoretical and practical approaches on the design and costing of agricultural investment projects with an objective to strengthen the technical capacities of experts from ECOWAS member states and ECOWAS regional actors for the implementation of ECOWAP 2025.
Similar training sessions have already been held in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, for the representatives of the Francophone ECOWAS member countries, and the final one will be held in Niamey, Niger, early April 2017 for the experts from regional organizations and regional actors involved in the implementation of ECOWAP. The focus of these trainings is on the use of a software called COSTAB (Costing table).
At the end of the entire exercise, it is expected that 50 experts involved in the formulation of projects in ministries in charge of agriculture in ECOWAS member states will have the technical knowledge required for the formulation and costing of agricultural investment projects; 20 experts in charge of agriculture of ECOWAS regional organizations and key regional stakeholders of ECOWAP implementation will have the technical knowledge required for the formulation and analysis of agricultural investment projects.
Review of the first generation of ECOWAP (ECOWAP 2005 -2015)
Adopted in January 2005, ECOWAP is the agricultural policy of ECOWAS. This regional policy is an important benchmark in the implementation of the agricultural component of NEPAD in West Africa, ECOWAP/CAADP. It is the basis for a massive transformation of West African agriculture by 2025, particularly because of the predominant role of women in agriculture and fisheries production and value chains, and the challenges related to youth in the context of high unemployment and illegal immigration. The review of ten years’ implementation of the Regional Agricultural Policy through a regional forum held in November 2015 highlighted a perceptible impact at four levels, namely (i) the increase of resources mobilization, (ii) the increase of agricultural production notwithstanding its variability from one year to another, (iii) the improvement of the productivity of some sectors such as rice, corn and cassava (iv) the significant development of animal industry including short sectors. Stakeholders in the forum felt, however that for the next ten years to come, the ECOWAP mission must be specified so as to integrate several underlying concerns such as (i) food sovereignty as the goal of the Agricultural Policy, (ii) nutrition as a complement of food security and (iii) climate-sensitivity of agriculture and the resilience at different levels. The role of the private sector should also be clarified as well as the contractual and fair nature of the expected relationship between family farmers and companies operating in the production sector.
About ARAA (RAAF)
ARAA/RAAF is an ECOWAS specialized Agency created in 2011 and officially launched in 2013. It is responsible for coordinating and facilitating activities related to the implementation of the regional agricultural policy. It does not directly carry out actions on the ground, but contracts with technical institutions and other actors with proven expertise.
Within the framework of the projects it coordinates, and with the support of some financial partners, RAAF directly finances projects in the field through calls for proposals to be carried out by public and private sector actors, NGOs and farmer associations/organizations in the region. RAAF’s main role is coordinating, supervising, coaching, facilitating and linking/networking.
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