As a prelude to the Advisory Committee meetings of the projects and programs of the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (RAAF) scheduled to be held from 19 to 22 March 2018 in Lomé, Togo, the new Commissioner, Mr. Sékou Sangaré, met for the first time RAAF staff on Saturday, March 17, 2018.
Scheduled to end on Thursday, March 22, 2018, these high-level meetings that are organized each year in March will allow the technical and financial partners of RAAF to review the various achievements of 2017 and give the necessary guidance for the 2018 action plans. The Advisory Committee meeting of each project is composed of the representatives of the technical and financial partners, ECOWAS and the beneficiaries.
During the meeting with RAAF staff, Commissioner Sangaré got familiar with the activities and the key achievements of RAAF in the field, after only four years of operation.
This was done through a PowerPoint presentation made by the RAAF Executive Director, Mr. Ousseini Salifou, on the institutional framework, the mandate and the main achievements of the Agency since its official launch in September 2013.
According to him, RAAF has made tremendous progress in fulfilling its mandate with the support of partners and the host country, Togo. For example, the latter has provided the Agency and its staff with a two-storey building serving as the headquarters of the Agency.
RAAF, said its Executive Director, has put in place tools for effective and efficient management such as its rules of procedure, procedures manual, project management cycle Guide, a three-year plan 2015-2017 as well as a communication and visibility plan, a brand manual and a monitoring and evaluation manual that is being computerized.
The main achievement of the Agency so far, he recalled, is the coordination of the implementation of 10 regional projects with a total amount of 124 million US dollars. Two of these projects have, through calls for project proposals in ECOWAS Member States, selected 43 field projects under implementation.
Some of the achievements on the ground include the operationalization of the Regional Food Security Reserve with a first purchase of 11, 230 tons of grain stored in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger and Nigeria. This operation enabled to support the populations of Northeastern Nigeria who are suffering from food and nutritional insecurity: 1, 130 tons of cereals have already been delivered and later about 1, 820 tons planned. A second purchase of 15, 691 tons of cereals is in progress with the goal of reaching in the next 8 years 411,000 tons.
Capacity building for executive officials in the 15 ECOWAS member States on project formulation, climate change in agriculture and social safety nets. Trainings on food and nutrition security in collaboration with the Regional Center Agrhymet of the Interstate Committee Against Drought in the Sahel (CILSS) are also part of RAAF’s achievements.
Other achievements of the Agency include support to Member States in improving orchard monitoring (mango), research, capacity building and fruit fly control in nearly a dozen of these States, support to countries in taking into account nutrition, social protection and the right to food in policy documents, conducting capitalization studies on the promotion of youth employment in the agro-silvo-pastoral sector and capacity building of producer organizations at regional level.
After four years of operationalization, it appears that RAAF is in line with the fulfilment of the mission entrusted to the Agency. However, two major challenges remain: the effective contribution of ECOWAS to the co-funding of projects and programs, and the operationalization of the Regional Fund for Developing Agriculture (ECOWADF).
At the end of the discussions, the Commissioner praised the actions of RAAF and encouraged the team to remain united for more achievements. He also showed his determination and his commitment to give the best of himself, during his mandate, to accompany the region to go as far as possible in the operationalization of the common agricultural policy.
RAAF, it should be recalled, is responsible for ensuring technical assistance on programs and regional investment plans that contribute to the operationalization of the ECOWAS regional agricultural policy, relying on institutions, regional organizations and stakeholders with proven expertise.