West Africa: Lomé recently hosted a top meeting on fertilizer access and soil health

Friday, 02 June 2023 14:46
West Africa: Lomé recently hosted a top meeting on fertilizer access and soil health

(Togo First) - The Presidents of Togo, Niger, and Guinea Bissau launched on May 31, 2023, a regional call to improve access to fertilizers in West Africa. 

The leaders did so in the Togolese capital at the close of a top-level meeting to enhance fertilizer security in West Africa. The roundtable was organized by Togo, ECOWAS, and the World Bank. Several West African key players and development partners attended.

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During the meeting, delegations from the participating countries approved a soil health roadmap. A move that should pave the way for greater collaboration between West African countries to make fertilizers more accessible in the region.

"Without vision, without a strategy, fertilizers quickly become the source of degradation of soils, rather than restoring them,”  said Faure Gnassingbé, President of Togo. “To strike the right balance, planning, and state involvement are key. That's why I'm in favor of regional planning. As illustrated by the Roadmap presented today, our vision must above all be sub-regional, " the leader added.

"By adopting a shared roadmap, ECOWAS countries are committed to improving access to mineral and organic fertilizers for small-scale farmers, with a focus on crop production which ensures food security and sovereignty for populations, as well as implementing priority actions," stressed Omar Alieu Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission.

Sub-regional coordination

"One of the key elements in the fight against desertification and soil impoverishment is, of course, the management of agricultural inputs", said Gnassingbé, ahead of the launch of 'La déclaration de Lomé'. "Producing more, now and in the future, is, therefore, the great imperative for our agriculture," he added.

After the meeting, industry leaders and development partners from the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food in West Africa (ECOWAP) reiterated their support for an innovative, integrated approach to sustainable soil fertility management.

According to the roadmap issued at the end of the event, the initiative should be based on three pillars: production, scientific research, and supply and marketing.

World Bank increases its support

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On the sidelines of the meeting, the World Bank announced additional financing of $1.5 billion for developing agriculture in West Africa by 2024, bringing the Bank’s total support for this sector to $5.5 billion, adding to the $4 billion already committed and being deployed. Similarly, the Netherlands announced a €100 million financing to support the sector in West Africa, over the next decade.

"In favor of ECOWAS member countries, and in collaboration with development partners, the World Bank is committed to increasing its financial and technical support for resilient agriculture that brings sustainable development and creates jobs. We are working with African institutions to promote soil health and combat food insecurity", said Ousmane Diagana, World Bank Vice President for West and Central Africa.

The top-level meeting in Lomé took place amidst several challenges in the region, such as difficulties in getting fertilizer due to the war in Ukraine. According to the latest projections, if appropriate measures are not taken quickly in the sub-region, it is estimated that 41.9 million people could face food insecurity between June and August 2023.

Ayi Renaud Dossavi

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