The President of the Network of West African Farmers and Agricultural Producers Organizations (ROPPA), Ibrahima Coulibaly, has called on governments in the West African countries to muster the political will to reduce hunger in the region.
He said that ROPPA, as a regional farmer organization, will remain robust in advocating for support for farmer organizations in its members’ countries.
Coulibaly made the call in an exclusive interview over the weekend in Kingsville, rural Montserrado County, when the regional farmers’ body convened its board meeting in the country to review its activities.
The board meeting, which ran from July 27-29, brought together leaders of farmers organizations from 15 countries in the subregion and was hosted by the Farmers Union Network of Liberia (FUNL). The meeting is the first since the outbreak of the COVID 19 which disrupted agricultural activities.
Food prices have increased by 20-30 percent over the past five years in West Africa since 2022, reports say. Food reserves are at the same time dwindling in the Sahel, and the crisis in Ukraine is making the situation dangerously worse.
In 2022, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported that food prices could rise by another 20 percent worldwide, an unbearable increase for already fragile populations. In addition, the crisis is likely to cause a significant decrease in wheat availability for six West African countries that import at least 30 percent, and in some cases more than 50 percent, of their wheat from Russia or Ukraine.
The ROPPA president told the Daily Observer that the political will to reduce hunger on the part of governments is being realized to some extent, but more needs to be done.
He said while in Liberia, they will be holding meetings with key government officials to ascertain the level of support for the agricultural sector.
“We will be holding meetings with the minister of agriculture and other government officials. Liberia is a resilient nation, and we are glad about the level of progress being made,” he explained.
He added that ROPPA was thankful to its development partners for the level of support they provided to member countries to implement necessary projects.
Also speaking was the President of the FUNL, Josephine Francis, who stated that her organization was pleased to host the ROPPA’s board meeting in the country.
“We welcomed the heads of other farming organizations to this country. We are proud to host such a meeting, which is meant to review the accomplishments of the regional farmers’ body,” she mentioned.
The Farmers Union President expressed the need for the Liberian government to fully support policies and programs for agriculture to improve food security.
She said unless those policies that have been put on papers are implemented, efforts to move agriculture forward will remain bleak.
“The government must make sure to implement those policies that are on the books. By doing so, it also demonstrates the political will to support agriculture,” she said.