By Linda Ike
Civil Society Organizations have called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament to legislate policies that will improve political Will for a sustainable Agriculture in Africa.
Speaking at the Delocalised meeting of the ECOWAS Parliament in Guinea, Capital of Guinea Bissau, the President of the Farmers Union of Liberia and First Vice President of the Roppa Monovia Liberia, Josephine George-Francis said more is expected from MPs to addressing the challenges of Agriculture in the sub-region.
Mrs Francis maintained that Agriculture is a business and stressing the need to grow food to feed the population.
She said most countries in the region have not come up to the benchmark of increasing the budget to 10% for Agriculture towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
She noted that Agriculture can create millions of employment for Africans, hence the need for the Political Will that will not only end at drafting policies but will also ensure the policies are well implemented.
“Agriculture is a business and we need to grow food to feed our population.
So, our government in the region especially in West Africa have to increase the budget.
“We also have the sustainable Development Goal for 2030 and most countries have not come up to the benchmark of increasing the budget to 10% for Agriculture.
“Agriculture is a major employment for millions of Africans, so the political will have to be there, not only the policies are written but implementation of the polices”
“Until we can do that, you know now with the climate change, the coronavirus, the war in Russia, Over 6 billion of our money went back to Russia and Ukraine for ore and wheat.
“We can grow it here, let’s start the investment in our research Institution, let’s start the investment in our best to get private sector, the entire value chain to grow agriculture”.
Mrs Francis who frowned at the difficulty faced by women and youths in getting lands for farming in some countries, called on Government to provide intervention to help women and youths especially those interested in farming.
She advocated ideas that will aid investment in agriculture as well as ensuring increased budgetary allocation to the sector.
She said, “Access to land is very difficult, women willing to buy land but they don’t have money.
“How can they get money to purchase land, that’s another political will. Help the women in different clans to have lands, help the youths to have land, making agriculture attractive to them and they will be able to invest.
” Parliament has the Agriculture Committee and they have the oversight of agriculture development and they have the oversight of the Ministry of Agriculture, so they all need to come to the table to start talk about investment in agriculture.
“They are the decision makers and who are the farmers? who are the rural people? They are the constituents, living, drowning and dying in poverty. Where is the balance? So Parliamentarians need to be told that the Civil Society are saying, you need to make sure that Agriculture is an opportunity for employment, your constituencies are living in poverty so, make sure you strengthen the policies, make sure the budgets are increased so our young people and women can live a better life, she said.
A Parliamentarian for Climate Change, Banjul, Gambia, Hon. Buba Khan charged MPs to see climate change as a reality that is causing a lot of emergencies around the world.
He said lawmakers need to ensure that leaders do not only attend summits on climate change but that every policy is well implemented.
He said, “We all know that climate change is a reality, it’s causing a lot of emergencies already and if no decisive action is taking, our continent and the world at large will be suffering, so that’s why we felt parliamentarians have a say.
They can come together use their policy muscles to develop far reaching policies that could be implemented at the National levels.
“This has been happening at the global level, about 19 parliamentarians came together and said, there is needs to be a forum of parliamentarians so that they can work together because climate change has no boundaries, it doesn’t care whether you are rich or poor. The impact is felt by everybody and everybody is concerned that they need to come together to be able to take action in order to stop the climate from changing because the IFCC agreement around temperature increase is at 1.5 but currently there is 1 degree rise in temperature already that is causing a lot of havoc.
“We have seen hurricanes, we have seen drought, we have seen flood, we have seen the erratic nature of rainfall, we have seen human being been affected through humanitarian crisis.
We felt so much of rhetoric, we need some action. World leaders will meet and come back with decisions they will not implement”.
Mr. Khan further challenged the ECOWAS Parliamentarians to join a forum of parliamentarians around the world that have taken up the fight against climate change seriously, suggesting that
Africans should begin to harness ways of using other sources of energy.
He said, “Europe and other countries are going for electrical cars, they are going for renewable energy, solar, windmill, others. We are still depending on generators, we are depending on things that are not sustainable that are causing our environment to deteriorate.
And that’s why we need them to join the forum so that they can work together with other parliamentarian around the world to take the world leaders into account
This is about accountability because you can’t keep going to meeting and after that meeting, nothing happens and its tax payers’ money that is taking them there. So, what are we doing as Africans towards that, our people need not going there but if they do they should take action, decisive actions”
The theme of the Delocalised meeting is “A critical look at the ECOWAS Environmental Policy and Climate Strategy, as well as a biennial review of the agricultural production, food and nutritional security in Member States