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Food security

First General Assembly of the ECOWAS Rice Observatory: Stakeholders in the Rice Sector Adopt a Roadmap for the Development of the Sector

Première Assemblée Générale de l'Observatoire du riz de la CEDEAO : les parties prenantes du secteur rizicole adoptent une feuille de route pour le développement de la filière

More than 150 participants from West African States and their partners took part in the first General Assembly (GA) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Rice Observatory (ERO), held on 21st and 22nd May 2024 in Abuja, Nigeria. Over two days of discussions, the GA took stock of the activities carried out and adopted a Roadmap for accelerating the growth of the rice sector in West Africa.

Established in 2021 to operationalize the ECOWAS Rice Offensive, the ECOWAS Rice Observatory (ERO) coordinates rice sector-related programmes, public/private investments, and policy recommendations for key decision-makers to help West Africa achieve rice self-sufficiency by 2030 through profitable, resilient, and environmentally sustainable agricultural enterprises that contribute to rural economic growth, poverty reduction and equity for women.

After two years of intense work in the countries and at the regional level, ERO presented the main achievements and the strategy documents to be adopted to its main stakeholders: farmers' organisations, processors and millers, traders and distributors, input suppliers, research institutes, government agencies and ministries, development organisations and NGOs, financial institutions, ERO national sections and members of the rice working groups of the ECOWAS Member States.

Discussions focused on the status of the rice sector in each country, the main initiatives underway to develop the rice value chain, the policy measures adopted in this area, and recommendations for regional action in support of Member States.

At the end of the discussions, the General Assembly adopted the regional roadmap for the development of the rice sector in West Africa, while calling for it to be aligned with the national rice development strategies of the countries concerned, considering their respective priorities.

The West African sub-region produces around 17 million tonnes of milled rice a year. Per capita rice consumption in West Africa is one of the highest in the world, ranging from 100 to 200 kilograms per person per year, depending on the country. In view of this importance, and to ensure self-sufficiency in rice production in the long term, the GA recommended strengthening and involving the private sector, with synergy of action between agri-dealers and input distributors in the countries, as well as the involvement of national and regional banking institutions.

The conclusions and recommendations of the ERO's first General Assembly were examined by its Board at its meeting on 23 May 2024, with a view to drawing up an action plan for their implementation. The Board, chaired by Mr Alain SY TRAORE, ECOWAS Director for Agriculture and Rural Development, includes representatives of scientific partners, development partners, the private sector, and countries.

The holding of the first ERO GA is an important milestone in the implementation of the ECOWAS Rice Offensive, which is itself a major framework for the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy, ECOWAP.

As the rice sector is far from self-sufficient in West Africa, with most countries still import a significant proportion of their rice needs, implementing the recommendations of this meeting will strengthen regional cooperation and partnerships between countries that share similar challenges and opportunities. By getting them to work together, the Rice Observatory will be able to capitalise on each other's strengths, sharing knowledge and creating synergies that will benefit the whole region.

 

For further information, please contact:

Dr Boladale, ERO Executive Secretary: email: badebowale@ecowas.int

Ziva Edegbe - zivaedegbe@gmail.com

Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Twitter: Ecowas_agric- Facebook: ecowas.agriculture - Website: www.ecowap.ecowas.int

Francis Dabiré - Mail: fdabire@araa.org

Kone Yekeminan - Mail: ykone@araa.org

Twitter: ARAA_CEDEAO - Facebook: araaraaf

                                                                                              Website: www.araa.org