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Sunday, December 19, 2021

3rd ECOWAS Summit: Unchecked trade imbalance’ll worsen job losses, poverty in West Africa, warns ActionAid’s Ene Obi – NaijaAgroNet

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The unchecked trade imbalance will worsen the situation of job losses and increase poverty in the West African region, reports NaijaAgroNet.
Ms Ene Obi, CD ActionAid
Disclosing this in a keynote to the 3rd ECOWAS People’s Agriculture Budget Summit – Interactive Session with the ECOWAS Parliament, by the Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Ms Ene Obi, said this has reached an alarming rate worthy of note by policy makers on the continent, especially from the West African region.

She also told participants at the session held at Hawthorn Suites, Abuja – Nigeria with the theme
 'The State of Public Financing for Agriculture in ECOWAS Member States' that if not checked that imbalance trade could worsen poverty in the subregion and desire to seek greener pastures by all means in the European Union. 

Citing an instance with the annual European Union (EU) subsidies to its food exports to West Africa, she noted that in 2019 about €235 million was used as subsidies for dairy products, €205 million for cereals and preparations and €97 million for poultry meat and preparations (which mainly concern subsidies to feed consumed by poultry).

“All these factors have greatly reduced the competitiveness of regional food products and caused many job losses and lack of future for the young West Africans who are thus induced to risk their lives either to try to reach the EU on small boats or to enrol in jihadist movements as a last resort,” she decried.

Obi stressed that as at 2019 Biennial Review (BR) Report, only Ghana and Mali, were on track in the ECOWAS region.

The country director pointed out it has reached an alarming rate, if Nigeria that contributes about 51 per cent to total food supply in West Africa suffers postharvest losses estimated to the tune of N3.5 trillion annually, then the postharvest losses of each West African country will be quite high.

She beckoned on ECOWAS Parliamentarians to take their time to engage their different countries on the Biennial Review (BR) processes and on the right investments that should be ensured so that countries are on track.

This, Ene Obi also said, 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.

NaijaAgroNet recalls that 3rd ECOWAS People’s Agriculture Budget Summit was organised by ActionAid Global Secretariat in collaboration with Oxfam, Trust Africa, ONE, CAADP Non-State Actors Coalition (CNC) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) as well as ActionAid Nigeria, given the direct impact decisions taken on allocations and spending in the agriculture sector usually have on the well-being of citizens.

Remmy Nweke/DoP

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