Agricultural policy and food security are major priorities for all countries in the region and also of equal priorities in regional and national policies. The West Africa region, which has major potentials in terms of agriculture, livestock and fisheries, nevertheless faces food security problems because it is dependent on and vulnerable to very differing climate conditions, sub-regional disparities and local production deficits, a lack of market fluidity and little competition within production sectors.
The link between food security and the availability of foodstuffs requires that different sectoral policies have to work together to enhance the competitiveness of the agriculture sector and develop the regional food markets. Stepping up food security requires improving the competitiveness of the sector to improve production.
In this context, the ECOWAS Commission has drawn up a three-prong strategy to improve the competitiveness of the agriculture sector. They include: 1) the ECOWAP agricultural policy adopted in January 2005 to ensure food security in the region, and make the most of production from regional agricultural sectors; 2) the programme and action plan for the joint implementation of ECOWAP and the NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP); and 3) the water resources and environment plan (ECOWEP).
The ECOWAS Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP) has been adopted by the governments of the region as the regional programme which would contribute to meeting the food and other agricultural needs of the population, develop member States’ economies and reduce poverty. The main areas of action are: i) the adaptation of production systems and improving the production environment; ii) the deepening of the common market in the agricultural sector; iii) the integration of the regions agriculture market into the world market.
The overall project objective is to contribute to capacity-building amongst the Partners on International Agriculture Trade Agreements towards the development of the regional agriculture sector and food markets. Specifically the project would strengthen the academic capacities of Partner Universities on international trade agreements which would enable them to enhance the Institutional capacities of government agencies and other relevant bodies on trade-related agriculture agreements in support of regional agriculture and food markets.