A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
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The ECOWAS renews its wishes for an “endogenous agricultural approach”

November 4, 2016

The first delocalized meeting of the parliament of the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS) was held in Dakar between November 1 and 5 on “Regional Agricultural Investment Program (RAIP) and the National Agricultural Investment Programs (NAIP) of the member states in the framework of the review of the ECOWAS common agricultural policy”.

The reassessment of the Western African regional agricultural policy initiated in 2005 was one of the key objectives of the meeting. With this in mind, Moustapha Cissé Lô, President of the ECOWAS Parliament, reminded that 80 percent of the region’s population lives in rural communities, and that its main occupation remains agriculture. As such, he called for a strong system aimed to an “endogenous agricultural approach”1. According to Mr. Lô, “Since agriculture is the cornerstone of the development of our nations, it is only fair to give it a dominant position in our choices and economic policies”.2

The meeting provided an opportunity to make recommendations on issues of agricultural policies in line with the initiatives taken in November 2015 to strengthen this policy to make it more effective, and especially to discuss its two operational pillars––the National Agricultural Investment Programs (NAIPs) and the Regional Agricultural Investment Program (RAIP) that ground the ECOWAP. Among the most noteworthy initiatives launched by the ECOWAS in the framework of these two pillars, we note the regional agricultural informational system (ECOAGRIS) initiated in 2012, the programs to support the regulation of Western African Markets (PARMAO) adopted in 2013 to ease the free flow of agricultural products (PROFAB) that also aims to regulate the agricultural commodity regional market in 2015. We must also note the implementation of a food security regional reserve, whose first physical stockpiling is currently being built (the region targets a total stockpiling capacity of one million tons by 2020)3.

Designing an integrated agricultural policy is indeed a challenging task for nations with vulnerable institutions and finances. As stated by Mr. Lô at the ECOWAS Parliament meeting, “If we want to fight hunger and malnutrition, 25 percent of national investment budgets must be earmarked to agriculture. The best strategy to develop Africa is to support agriculture.4 The representatives were also called to “respect the commitment taken by African countries to allocate ten percent of national budgets to agriculture.”5

The sword of Damocles of the economic partnership agreements (EPAs) between the ECOWAS and the EU represents one of the difficulties of implementing an agricultural policy.

In an interview published by AFDI, Nadjirou Sall, General Secretary of the Network of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organizations of West Africa (ROPPA), points out that consolidating Western African markets is a prerequisite before launching any liberalization process: “This is our key challenge before thinking about the creation of a free trade zone with Europe! Until we have built our regional market, it is no use to fan out. We must focus on this issue to ease the flow of agricultural commodities within the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS).6

In fact, the EPA adopted by the ECOWAS in 2014 includes the liberalization of 75 percent of its market against a total opening of the European market. Western Africa has excluded most agricultural products from total liberalization. Yet two key commodities for food security and the long-term future of regional production would not be excluded from the liberalization considered by the agreement––milk powder and grains (other than rice).

Today, 13 out of the ECOWAS 15 member states have signed the regional EPA. Gambia and Nigeria are still refusing to endorse the agreement, and are currently blocking its final implementation. For these two nations, the problem lies with the lower customs duties for European imports against the access to the European market without any taxation of products from these regions. While the negotiations on the EPAs may be difficult (only one of these agreements, the one with Southern Australia, has been initialed after over fifteen years of discussions), the guarantees of their final adoption do not jeopardize the emergence of better regional integration, and thus the possibility of a strong Western African agricultural policy does not seem to be earned at this stage.

1 http://www.aps.sn/actualites/economie/(...)/cedeao-moustapha-cisse-lo-pour-une-vision-agricole-endogene
2 http://parl.ecowas.int/english/deputes/depute_carte.htm
3 On this topic, see the Inter-Réseaux paper

4 Ibidem
5 Ibidem
6 http://www.afdi-opa.org/stoppons-la-mise-en-oeuvre-des-ape/

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Paris, 26 June 2019