The role of Academic Institutions in collaborating with the private sector to spearhead government policies is critical to the development of the nation-state. Speaking at a two-day Workshop on the role of Agriculture Universities in enhancing the capacities of governments to implement agriculture trade policies, Mr. Chris Addy-Nayo, a Development Expert emphasised on the critical role of Academic Institutions in collaborating with governments and private sector to facilitate the growth and development of the agriculture sector and its contribution to food security and poverty reduction within the ECOWAS sub-region.
Agricultural policy and food security are major priorities for all countries in the ECOWAS sub-region and also of equal priorities in regional and national policies. The West Africa region, which has major potentials in terms of agriculture, livestock and fisheries, nevertheless faces food security problems because it is dependent on and vulnerable to very differing climate conditions, sub-regional disparities and local production deficits, a lack of market fluidity and little competition within production sectors. The link between food security and the availability of foodstuffs requires that different sectorial policies have to work together to enhance the competitiveness of the agriculture sector and develop the regional food markets. Stepping up food security requires improving the competitiveness of the sector to improve production.
The two-day Workshop was organised by some Agricultural Universities across the sub-region to discuss the contribution of the Academic Community?s input to research on agriculture trade negotiations and policy making impacting on the development and growth of the agriculture sector. The Universities include the College of Agriculture Education of the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana; University of Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia; Njala University, Sierra Leone, the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria, and University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso..
Contributing to the discussions Mr. Chris Addy-Nayo noted the importance of the Private sector in the growth and development of the agriculture sector especially in the light of the implementation of the WTO Bali Package and also the forthcoming implementation of the EU-ECOWAS Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). He further reiterated the importance of strengthening the capacity of Agriculture Colleges in the ECOWAS sub-region to support governments in their efforts to propose and implement Agriculture Policies which would enable the ECOWAS region to achieve Food Security and also promotes the growth and development of commercial the agriculture sector and agro-exports.
Participants at the Workshop include the ECOWAS Commission, Ministries of Agriculture, donor agencies, private sector and Civil Society organisations. The Workshop was organised with the technical support and assistance of the EU ?African Caribbean Pacific EDULINK II Programme .
By Anita Frimpong