West African Heads of State and ministers affirmed their commitment to accelerate investments and reforms to make fertilizers more accessible and affordable during the high-level roundtable jointly organized by the Togolese government, the World Bank, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
A roadmap on soil health was endorsed by the country delegations, bringing together President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé of the Republic of Togo, President Mohamed Bazoum of the Republic of Niger, President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea Bissau, as well as ministers of agriculture and finance.
“Without vision, without strategy, fertilizers can quickly turn from a promise of soil restoration to the cause of deterioration, » said the President of the Republic of Togo, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé. « As we need to find a proper balance, planning and state involvement are essential. I therefore support a regional approach. As exemplified by the roadmap presented today, our vision should primarily be sub-regional. »
During the event, industry leaders and development partners from the Economic Community of West Africa Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP) reaffirmed their commitments to the development of an innovative and integrated approach for sustainable soil fertility management.
“Together with ECOWAS member countries and development partners, the World Bank is committed to increasing financial and technical support for a resilient agriculture that promotes sustainable development and creates jobs. We are working with African institutions to promote soil health and fight food insecurity,” said Ousmane Diagana, World Bank Vice President for Western and Central Africa.
The World Bank Group announced an additional 1.5 billion dollars by 2024 – an increase from 4 billion already committed and under implementation to 5.5 billion dollars. It includes continued support for reforms needed to improve soil health and strengthening the fertilizer sector in terms of subsidy management, quality control and traceability through policy development operations and green fertilizer production projects. The Netherlands also pledged 100 million euros to support the sector in West Africa over the next decade.
“Through the adoption of a common roadmap, ECOWAS countries are committing to improve access to mineral and organic fertilizers for smallholder farmers, with a focus on crops that ensure food security and sovereignty for people and the implementation of the priority actions,” highlighted Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission.
The Lomé round table brought together leaders from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. Also in attendance were the President of ECOWAS, the World Bank Vice-President for West and Central Africa, representatives of regional development partners including the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), as well as fertilizer industry leaders among others.
In a call to strengthen the resilience of agricultural and food systems, regional leaders approved a declaration covering a series of concrete objectives and measures:
Tripling the consumption of fertilizers and doubling agricultural production by 2035 by adopting an integrated approach to land management and soil health restoration;
Urgently improving access to mineral and organic fertilizers for small-scale farmers, with a focus on climate resilient crops to ensure people become food secure;
Adopting policy measures to facilitate access and use of fertilizers by eliminating customs duties and taxes, promoting transparency, and developing capacity for quality control and traceability through the establishment of the West African Fertilizer Quality Control Committee;
Strengthening research and development systems on sustainable land management, including adoption of new technologies;
Boosting investments in transport, shipment, and storage infrastructure, as well as establishing financing and risk-sharing facilities for input manufacturers and distributors in the region, with the support of the World Bank Group (WBG), Regional Investment and Development Banks (EBID, BOAD), African Banks (AfDB, Afreximbank); and
Enhancing regional collaboration to improve the production, procurement, and distribution of organic and mineral fertilizers in the community space thought the operationalization of the African Fertilizer Development Financing Mechanism.
During the meeting, governments, regional and development partners, including ECOWAS, the World Bank Group, and private sector leaders also committed to report back on progress achieved on these goals in the coming months.