April 23 to April 25, 2014. Accra, USAID/ West Africa Regional Mission held a conference for participants from across West Africa.
A press release from the Public Affairs section of the United States Embassy in Accra copied to the Ghana News Agency said the conference was conducted as an element of President Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative (FTF) which provides over $139 million per year in funds agricultural development in West Africa.
“Building on United States President Obama’s visit to the region in 2013 that reinforced the U.S. commitment to expanding economic growth, investment and trade, the conference sought to maximize the impact of U.S. assistance to the agricultural sector which comprises over 60 per cent of the regional population”, the release stated.
Core conference themes included: building synergies that address regional challenges in agriculture, trade and economic growth; advancing the FTF priority of achieving and scaling results; providing an opportunity for ECOWAS and the West Africa Regional Organizations to share progress and discuss regional priorities in the agriculture sector; and increasing awareness and understanding of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program after ten years.
According to the release, ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Dr. Marc Atouga, emphasized in his keynote address that: “We must be bold and make sure free movement of agricultural commodities is effective. It’s up to us to learn lessons from others’ failures and successes and implement them in West Africa.”
Dr. Ahmed Hamid, ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, underscored the importance of regional integration and private sector participation.
Several key regional organizations, including the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel(CILSS), the West and Central African Council on Agriculture Research and Development(CORAF/WECARD), Hub Rural, and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), together with USAID implementing partners, discussed ways to effectively scale up successes in policy, agricultural productivity, reducing barriers to trade and promoting resilience.