ECOWAS Ministers of Food and Agriculture on Thursday in Ouagadougou approved the establishment of a regional committee to oversee the implementation of regulations regarding the production, importation and application of pesticides in West Africa so as to protect the environment and the population from hazardous chemicals.
The West African Committee for Pesticides Approval, a committee of experts from member states that have ratified the common regulation on pesticides and external experts, was one of the decisions of the one-day meeting of the ministers that discussed ways of boosting agricultural productivity in the region. Its operations will be centrally coordinated but operate from two zones – the Sahelian and humid zones that will cater for the agricultural divide of West Africa.
In particular, the committee will facilitate trade in pesticides among
Member states through the enforcement of regionally agreed principles, facilitate farmers’ access to quality pesticides in a timely and convenient manner, ensure their rational and judicious use, contribute to the creation of an environment conducive for private sector investment in the pesticides industry and promote private/public partnership.
The ministers also agreed on the ECOWAS supplementary act for the harmonization of rules for pesticides registration in the region as well as the regulation on the harmonization of rules governing the quality control, certification and marketing of seeds and planting materials.
The comprehensive regulation will ensure access to quality seed to West African farmers; facilitate local production of quality seeds as well as intra-community trading to facilitate the creation of the common market envisaged under the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP).
ECOWAP focuses on the three pillars of improving agricultural productivity and competitiveness, integrating production and markets and improving access to international markets.
A liberalized market for seeds suitable for the region will also help contribute to improved food security and the capacity of regional farmers to compete in the global environment.
In addition, the ministers adopted a five-year action plan for the development of biotechnology and bio-safety in the region to enable regional agriculture benefitthe implementation of the action plan.