Enhancing food storage capacity remains top priority – Foreign Minister

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, says the Government of Ghana, as part of the implementation of the Regional Food Security Storage, continues to enhance the country’s food storage capacity.

According to the Minister, Government continues to strengthen the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) to manage these storage facilities, as well as ensure that agricultural produce are safe and suitable for human consumption at all times.

She was speaking on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, at the International Conference on the West African Food Security Storage System and the Building of a multilateral partnership.

She said “Indeed, the enhancement of storage systems in Ghana and across the sub-region is also linked to the creation of employment in the informal sector.”

The Minister indicated that “Ghana, with the support of ECOWAS, has domesticated its national storage policy in line with the implementation of the regional food security storage strategy in West Africa.”

“While previous and on-going campaigns for food security in the sub-region have led to an appreciable improvement in the performance of both the agricultural and food storage sectors, food and nutritional insecurity still remains a major area of concern for Member States. It is for this reason that all Member States and relevant stakeholders need to boost their collaborative efforts for the operationalization and success of the regional reserve which is necessary and fundamental in the consolidation of regional solidarity and integration,” she noted.

It would be recalled that the West Africa Regional Food Security Reserve was adopted in February 2013 by ECOWAS Heads of State and Government to strengthen the region’s leadership in the resolution of food, nutrition and pastoral crises.

It is intended primarily for emergency operations in the event of a crisis and consists of one-third physical stocks and two-thirds financial reserves. The Regional Food Security Reserve aims to complement the efforts of the Member States to provide rapid and diversified food and nutrition assistance, express regional solidarity to Member States and affected populations through transparent, equitable and predictable mechanisms, contribute to food sovereignty and to the political, economic and trade integration of West Africa.

“With the political support of the G20 and the financial support of the European Union, the ECOWAS Commission, in 2015, commenced work towards the effective operationalization of this regional storage system as an important step in integration and regional solidarity. After 5 years of implementation of the Project, an internal assessment has revealed important achievements, challenges and lessons learnt in order to make the regional stockholding strategy a decisive instrument for the elimination of hunger in the region by 2030,” she said.

“It is my fervent hope that this Conference will provide the much-needed platform for information and experience-sharing on food storage systems between West Africa and its global partners with the objective of addressing existing challenges and enhancing regional capacity to confront the projected food shortages and nutritional challenges. The outcome of our deliberations should also facilitate the creation of a renewed multilateral partnership to strengthen the resilience of the regional storage system and its capacity to respond effectively to the existing food, nutrition and pastoral crises.”

By Melvin Tarlue