The Head of the Agriculture Division of the ECOWAS Commission says the sub-regional body’s goal to make West Africa self-sufficient in rice production is on course.
Ernest Aubee says the Rice Offensive Program (ROP) which has the objective to ensure self-sufficiency in rice production in West Africa by 2025 is progressing steadily with just a few outstanding issues.
“The critical issues are how to maintain the gains made: policy and public angles, investment in technologies and distribution networks, and support farmers in input seed extension and research,” he observed.
Mr Aubee made the observation when he paid a courtesy call on the Chief Executive Officer of the John A. Kufuor Foundation Prof. Baffour Agyeman Duah in Accra.
The John A. Kufuor Foundation hosts the secretariat of the African Rice Advocacy Platform (ARAP), an organization comprising 12 African countries that seeks mutual accountability and cooperation in ensuring sustainable rice production across the continent.
The purpose of the visit was to foster stronger ties between the foundation and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in helping the sub-region achieve self-sufficiency in rice production.
Prof. Agyeman Duah said the foundation was happy to build on the partnership with ECOWAS to support the sub-region reach self-sufficiency in rice production.
Mr Aubee praised the foundation’s efforts in helping build a strong rice value chain in Ghana and other African countries.
He also disclosed ECOWAS was developing an ECOWAS rice fact book to track happenings in the rice sector per country.
Mr Aubee urged the foundation to enrol all 16 West African states onto ARAP to build on sub-regional gains of the ECOWAS Rice Offensive Programs and other interventions in the sector.
He praised GIZ – the German government’s international development organisation – for their continuous support for the local rice production sector.
Currently, Ghana, Nigeria and Burkina Faso are ECOWAS countries benefiting from the Competitive Africa Rice Initiative (CARI) which is funded by GIZ.
CARI works to improve upon the livelihoods of smallholder rice farmers in Africa. He disclosed GIZ has committed to upscaling CARI in all ECOWAS member countries.
Nana Ama Oppong-Duah who is Policy Advisor at the foundation indicated the foundation was ready to support the Rice Offensive Program in the spirit of the cooperation already established with ECOWAS.
The partners also discussed having champions to support value addition and increase returns in the rice value chain, promote locally produced rice and carry out advocacy in support of the local rice industry.
Bashiru Dokurugu of the Alliance for Green Revolution (AGRA) who was also in the meeting noted there were lots of opportunities for possible collaborations under the AGRA regional policy programme, which had conducted a political economy analysis on intra-sub regional trade.