The Economic Community of West African States, with technical and financial support from the United States Agency for International Development Agribusiness and Trade Promotion project, will host a trade and food security conference in Accra.
The three-day conference on regional trade in locally produced food commodities is expected to begin on January 29-31.
The conference which is on the theme: “Food Across Borders: Improving Regional Trade for Food Security in West Africa,” would bring together stakeholders – Ministers, government officials, regional organizations, business associations, regional trade companies, farmer associations, financial institutions and development partners – to analyze the importance of regional trade to food security in West Africa as well as current obstacles to trade.
This was contained in a statement signed by Mr Felix Deyegbe of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Agribusiness & Trade Promotion, copied to the Ghana News Agency on Thursday.
The statement said the conference will help spur consensus between public and private sectors on the way forward and will produce an agenda for increasing regional trade and food security to benefit millions of West Africans.
It said food security continues to elude West Africa, particularly in its Sahelian countries adding that “the region’s trade in staple communities, while significant, is an underestimated, underappreciated contributor to food security, meriting reflection by national and regional stakeholders,” the statement said.
It said the conference would present outlook for food security in the region and data on the current contribution of regional trade to food security.
The statement said the conference would include a Forum for Private Sector Action and Public-Private Dialogue.
It said the Forum would give private sector partners opportunities to discuss challenges and solutions to regional trade and develop an advocacy plan.
It explained that in Public-Private Dialogue, stakeholders would learn about West Africa’s food security outlook and regional trade, so as to agree on priority actions within an agenda for removing challenges to regional trade in West Africa.
It said this collective effort by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and USAID would bolster commitment by key stakeholders to increase regional trade and augment food security in West Africa.
US Government’s Agribusiness and Trade Promotion project works to increase the value and volume of intra-regional agricultural trade in West Africa through support to organizations and individuals in the livestock, maize, rice and millet/sorghum value chains.
The project works in collaboration with regional partners and organizations, including ECOWAS and the West African Economic and Monetary Union; in nine countries namely Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo