The population of people who go hungry in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) skyrocketed to 20 million in 2020 and is estimated to reach 27 million by end of 2021.

This is in contrast to its increase from 4 million in 2018 to 16 million in 2019.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) in Ghana has defined the situation as scary and called for possible means and measures to reverse the trend.

The Minister of MoFA, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, who also doubles as the Chairman of the Specialised Ministerial Technical Committee on Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources (SMTC-AEWR), urged member states to fulfil their commitments towards the consolidation and strengthening of the development of the regional food storage systems for ECOWAS to help eliminate hunger in the sub-region.

“The population who go hungry keep on increasing exponentially with time. Therefore, I wish to entreat member states that have benefited from the existing Regional Food Security Reserve stocks and future beneficiaries to adhere to replenishment schedules to ensure the sustainability of the regional storage strategy,” he stressed.

He added that ECOWAS countries must continue to mobilise resources to sustain their community and national storage initiatives.

From the conference, held on West African Food Security Storage System, the various ministers in charge of agriculture and food security of ECOWAS member states have recognised the need to ensure strong integration and coherence between the food security storage policy, the desire to secure basic food supplies for the population by promoting local products, nutritional and social protection policies for the most vulnerable households, and the strengthening of resilience.

Also, to achieve Sustainable Development Goal Two, which is to ‘Eliminate Hunger, Achieve Food Security, Improve Nutrition, and Promote Sustainable Agriculture’; the various ministers are committed to individually and collectively mobilise and allocate significant resources to strengthen and expand community and private storage.

“We must build and increase a national food security stock (physical and/or financial) to reach at least 1,500,000 metric tonnes of food equivalent to form the basic food of the populations of the Sahel and West Africa by 2025,” Dr Afriyie Akoto said.

The various ministers are also committed to continuing the principle of “grain for grain” reimbursement from the regional stock to ensure its sustainability.

“We will renew our commitment to allocating five per cent of our national stock through the Network of Companies or Bodies in charge of the Management of National Food Security Stocks in the Sahel and West Africa (RESOGEST), in solidarity with the member states affected by severe food crises captured in the ‘Harmonized Framework’ mechanism and validated in the prevention and management of food crises,” the ministers noted.

The various ministers invited the technical and financial partners, who include the European Union, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and others to support the efforts of local populations in their local resilience mechanisms.

“Support the strengthening of the intervention capacities of food reserves: the building of local and national stocks and the Regional Food Security Reserve,” the ministers stressed.

They added that the financial partners must give priority in their support to the dynamics of local food purchases to strengthen the resilience of local agri-food systems.

This, they indicated, can be done by aligning their interventions with those of the states and institutions of the Sahel and the West African states mandated to achieve food and nutritional security in the Sahel and West Africa.

The ministers called for support to strengthen the intervention tools of the regional reserve by increasing its physical capacity to at least 150,000 tons and more generally to support the promotion of sustainable and more resilient agri-food systems.

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