ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) in collaboration with other partners such as Oxfam, Trust Africa, ONE, CAADP Non-State Actors Coalition (CNC) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has hosted the 3rd ECOWAS Agriculture Budget Summit in Abuja on Wednesday.
The event, according to Ene Obi, ActionAid Nigeria’s Country Director, has become imperative so as to sustain the critical conversations around public financing of Agriculture in ECOWAS member states particularly for ECOWAS Women Farmers, for the third year.
In her keynote address, she said the summit’s interactive Session with the ECOWAS Parliament given the direct impact decisions taken on allocations and spending in the agriculture sector usually have on the well-being of citizens is also crucial.
“As you know, the overall purpose of the summit is to review the last Biennial Review Report and Performance of ECOWAS countries, highlight current situation in agriculture investment and expenditure within the region, its effect and impact and how best to increase the quantity and quality of agriculture budget for 2022/2023 fiscal year and make it better focused to benefit women and smallholder farmers in the ECOWAS region.”
“As at 2019 Biennial Review (BR) Report, only Ghana and Mali were on track in the ECOWAS Region, and we hope that by the time the third BR Report will be presented at the African Union Assembly early 2022, it is expected that Nigeria and other West African countries would be on track due to farmer organisations and CSOs engagements on the process especially using the Non-State Actors (NSAs) Value Addition Biennial Review Toolkit (VABKIT).
“Just for an example, it is a cause for alarm, if Nigeria that contributes about 51% to total food supply in West Africa suffers post harvest losses estimated to the tune of N3.5 trillion annually, then the post harvest losses of each West African country will be quite high.
“ECOWAS Parliamentarians would need to take their time to engage their different countries on the BR processes and on the right investments that should be ensured so that countries are on track, and this is the urgent time to do so as investments have continued to be low in strategic areas of Extension Services, Access to Credit, Women in Agriculture, Youth in Agriculture, Appropriate Labour-Saving Technologies, Inputs, Post-Harvest Losses Reduction Supports (processing facilities, storage facilities, trainings, market access, etc.), Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA)/Agroecology, Research and Development, Monitoring and Evaluation, as well as Coordination” she said
Ene stated that ECOWAS Parliamentarians must prioritise BR processes and ensure that public investments in agriculture is urgently scaled up in terms of quantity and quality of investments in strategic areas of Extension Services, Access to Credit, Women in Agriculture, Youth in Agriculture, Appropriate Labour-Saving Technologies, Inputs, Post-Harvest Losses Reduction Supports (processing facilities, storage facilities, trainings, market access, etc.), Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA)/Agroecology, Research and Development, Monitoring and Evaluation, as well as Coordination.
The event was attended by the ECOWAS Parliament from fifteen West African Countries as well as other major stakeholders across West Africa.