Head of the Agriculture Division of the ECOWAS Commission Mr. Ernest Aubee has paid a courtesy call on officials of the John A. Kufuor Foundation.
The purpose of the visit was to foster stronger ties between the foundation and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in helping the sub-region achieve self-sufficiency in rice production.
Among issues discussed were how to involve ECOWAS member countries in the Rice Offensive Program (ROP) which is working to ensure self-sufficiency in rice production in West Africa by 2025.
Mr. Aubee praised the foundation’s efforts in helping build a strong rice value chain in Ghana and other African countries.
He also disclosed that ECOWAS was working on developing an ECOWAS rice fact book per country.
Mr. Aubee said the sub-region is making progress in ensuring self-sufficiency in rice production, disclosing Nigeria is currently the number one in rice-producing country in Africa with Senegal, Gambia and Mali also making progress.
“The critical issues are how to maintain the gains made: policy and public angles, investment in technologies, distribution networks, and support for farmers in input seed extension and research,” he observed.
The John A. Kufuor Foundation hosts the secretariat of the African Rice Advocacy Platform (ARAP), an organization comprising 12 African countries that seeks mutual accountability and cooperation in ensuring sustainable rice production across the continent.
Mr. Aubee urged the foundation to enroll all 16 West African states onto ARAP to build on sub-regional gains of the ECOWAS Rice Offensive Programs and other interventions in the sector. He praised GIZ – the German government’s international development organization – for their continuous support for the local rice production sector.
Currently, Ghana, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso are ECOWAS countries benefiting from the Competitive Africa Rice Initiative (CARI) which is funded by GIZ. CARI works to improve upon the livelihoods of smallholder rice farmers in Africa. He disclosed GIZ has committed to upscaling CARI in all ECOWAS member countries.
Chief Executive Officer of the John A. Kufuor Foundation Prof. Baffour Agyeman Duah said the foundation was happy to build on the partnership with ECOWAS to support the sub-region reach self-sufficiency in rice production.
Mrs. Nana Ama Oppong-Duah who is Policy Advisor at the foundation indicated the foundation was ready to support the Rice Offensive Program in the spirit of the cooperation already established with ECOWAS.
The partners also discussed having champions to support fundraising for the rice value chain, promote locally produced rice and carry out advocacy and awareness.
Mr. Bashiru Dokurugu of the Alliance for Green Revolution (AGRA) who was also in the meeting noted there were lots of opportunities for possible collaborations under the AGRA regional policy programme, which had conducted a political economy analysis on intra-sub regional trade.