To consolidate the good governance mechanisms for the Regional Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP) and its instruments towards improved documentation of best practices, an ECOWAS-AGRA co-funded study came out last September with a draft Biennial Review (BR) Protocol and a draft Handbook on National Agricultural and Food and Nutrition Security Investment Plans (NAFNSIP) Good Practices for consideration. Stakeholders gathered in Abuja (Nigeria) from 3rd to 7th October 2022 to technically validate them. Prior to their validation by Member States experts, the two reports were first reviewed by regional experts from 3rd to 5th October following their presentation by consultants
The operationalization of the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP) rests on the implementation of two categories of complementary plans or programs, namely the National Agricultural Investment Plans (NAIP) and the Regional Agricultural Investment Plan (RAFNSIP). These go to complement the efforts of the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), the continental initiative towards Agricultural Growth and transformation. The biennial review process is one of the seven Malabo Commitments initiated at the continental level that can measure Agricultural growth and transformation.
Since inception of the CAADP in 2003 and especially after the Malabo Declaration in 2014, several efforts have been made within the CAADP process at the continental, regional and national levels. Over the years, great improvements have been recorded. Furthermore, since 2017, when the biennial review process was launched, many efforts were made to enable the 15 West African countries have steady progress. In the third biennial report in 2021, West Africa was ranked the best performing region because of its well-controlled processes even though many challenges are yet to be addressed.
The workshop gave tribune to the Lead Consultant, Dr Olawale Olayide (Research Fellow, Expert Trainer & Consultant in Sustainability, Department of Sustainability Studies, Faculty of Multidisciplinary Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria) and Co-Consultant, Mr Abdoulaye Baba Arby (Head of the Planning and Policy Analysis Unit of the Rural Development Sector) to present the study reports they have undertaken from July to September 2022.
Following the presentations, the regional technical experts made amendments and comments to each document. Discussions were enriching in terms of information, comments and guidelines for improving the reports. The revised and consolidated documents were then shared with experts from the ECOWAS Countries (NAIP and NAIP M&E focal persons as well as Non-State Actors) for further examination.
Interactions among participants focussing on (i) the consistency of the sequences of the documents, (ii) their overall flow, (iii) contents and (iv) recommendations made it possible to effectively validate the BR Protocol and Handbook on NAIP Good Practices.
The BR Protocol and the Handbook aim respectively to share the result of the collaborative efforts of the ECOWAS Member States under the leadership of the ECOWAS Commission and harness and share good practice principles to help the customization of ECOWAP in Country plans.
They are meant to (i) serve as a reference document for all stakeholders in the region, (ii) serve as a reference document for new actors who will join the process at any time, (iii) present the progress and efforts made by ECOWAS and its partners and (iv) ensure that all countries in the region follow a standard approach to facilitate comparability, consistency and unity.
Going forward, the two reports will be taken to the ECOWAS Management for consideration as reference documents in the region before public and wide dissemination.