By Kebba Jeffang
Members of the ECOWAS Parliament have converged in Banjul to find solutions that will address the effects of climate change in agriculture. The convergence which started on April 24th will continue to the 28th.
The president of the Parliament Mustapha Ceesay Lowe, said the delocalized meeting will look into integration, meeting the people as well as make field trips during the course of the five days.
“The problems of agriculture and food security remains a concern despite plans and resolutions. The problem is more than policies but also rainfall and the effects of climate change. We will be looking into the challenges and discuss solutions which can bring food security for the region, during the meeting,” he said.
The speaker of the national assembly of The Gambia Mariam Jack Denton, said the meeting on sustainable agriculture in the context of climate change is timely and crucial; that agricultural productivity and growth in West Africa, are under threat from erratic rainfall.
“It is therefore essential that we are gathered here to brainstorm on prioritizing of climate-smart options and portfolios for investment, with a view to providing innovative solutions towards the complex and integrated goals of increasing yields, improving resilience and promoting low emissions agriculture,” she said.
She added that countries should invest in agriculture using national budgets; that The Gambia is among the countries that are within the target of the 10% budgetary allocation to agriculture as the current budget allocates 9.93% to the sector.
“Given that all budget appropriations of our respective countries pass through the institutions that we are representing, I urge all and sundry to make sure that at least each and every single ECOWAS national budget allocates at least 10% towards the agriculture sector,” she said.
Naffie Barry, permanent secretary of ECOWAS Focal Ministry, Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, said climate change is an important topic that gained prominence as seen in the Paris Agreement. She said climate change will have diverse effects on countries across the globe but that Africa is most vulnerable as per research.
“The negative effects of climate change have already been experienced in the ECOWAS block as well as other neighboring regions. There is the need for national, regional, continental and international efforts towards adapting to climate resilient measures and safeguarding the population against some of the negative consequences,” she said. She tasked the stakeholders to be proactive in finding solutions to the challenges to agricultural development.
Representing the Minister of Agriculture, Demba Ali Jawo, the Information Minister said the delocalized meeting in the Gambia, should be reviewing the shortcomings in its quest to emphasize the value chain approach in the context of climate change realities.
The ECOWAS Permanent Representative in the Gambia, Ms. Vabah Gayflo said the Commission has created a free movement of goods within the sub-region.
“Agriculture is one of the cardinal reasons for the formation of the ECOWAS Commission and this delocalized meeting is significant,” she said.
She said the issue of climate change has become increasingly discussed as it affects agriculture making it a concern to all member countries; that efforts are being made to mitigate the effect.
The Majority Leader of the National Assembly of The Gambia, Kebba K. Barrow and Fatou Njie, Member for Banjul South, both addressed the ECOWAS parliamentarians at the event.