ECOWAS Parliamentarians Visit the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (RAAF)

By Admin / 1 month, 1 week ago

As part of their activities as transnational legislators and especially in the context of their new prerogatives to monitor and follow up on the actions of the ECOWAS Commission and its specialised agencies and institutions, ECOWAS MPs regularly visit some Member States to get familiar with ECOWAS specialised agencies and institutions. Such working sessions enable regional parliamentarians to better understand what specialised agencies and institutions are doing on ground in terms of contributing to the ideals of the new ECOWAS Vision which ambitions to build "a fully integrated Community of people in a peaceful and prosperous region with strong institutions, respectful of fundamental freedoms and working towards inclusive and sustainable development" by 2050.

As in October 2018, the Executive Director of RAAF, Mr. Ousseini Salifou, and his team were honoured to interact this afternoon of 26th October 2022 with the group of Parliamentarians led by the Honourable Member of Parliament from Ghana, Mr. Ahi Sampson. The PowerPoint presentation that was made on the activities and major achievements of RAAF provided the basis for discussions.

From a year to another, and this since RAAF was established in 2011 and launched in 2013, the recurrent challenge remains the fact that RAAF projects are funded by development partners, which does not allow the region to truly take ownership of its agricultural sector development based on its priorities and agenda.

While congratulating the RAAF team for the great work being done on ground, the MPs also understood that they have an important advocacy role to play. They will have to make the necessary pleas to all competent authorities/decisions-makers for (i) a rapid replenishment of the regional fund for agriculture and food created the same year as RAAF but which, unfortunately, is still not operational (ii) accelerated recruitment of staff in order to provide RAAF with the necessary manpower to facilitate the implementation of its mandate and (iii) exemption rights and transit facilities to be granted by countries to the products of the Regional Food Security Reserve for humanitarian actions within the Community space.

The parliamentarians are already exploring the idea of organising more sessions at ECOWAS Parliament level that are more oriented towards public policies implemented in the region and organising awareness campaigns on the promotion of local products, particularly those deriving from agriculture. Parliamentarians could also contribute in disseminating information on RAAF actions. Furthermore, like all other ECOWAS specialised agencies and institutions, RAAF should communicate more on its activities and achievements.

 

The current context of security and health challenges coupled with the Russian-Ukrainian crisis and terrorism, which negatively impacts on agriculture and food, once again justifies the rationale behind the creation of RAAF in 2011 with the mandate "to ensure technical implementation of regional investment programmes and plans contributing to the operationalisation of the Regional Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP) by relying on regional institutions, organisations and actors with proven expertise".