In the context of a close collaboration aimed at promoting agriculture in West Africa, a delegation from the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF) was received in audience by Ms. Massandj√© TOURE-LITSE, Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Thursday, September 7, 2023. The meeting took place at the ECOWAS Commission’s annex offices in Abuja, Nigeria.

A Long-standing Commitment

During this meeting, Ms. Massandj√© TOURE-LITSE warmly welcomed the CORAF delegation, acknowledging the long and fruitful collaboration between the two institutions. She expressed the ECOWAS Commission’s gratitude for CORAF’s notable achievements in agricultural research and technological innovations in the West African region.

In turn, Dr. Yassine DOUDOUA, Vice President of the CORAF Board of Directors, also commended Commissioner Massandj√© for her commitment and thanked ECOWAS for their trust in CORAF. The key agenda items included: i) Presentation of CORAF’s Achievements on behalf of ECOWAS; ii) Discussions on New Partnership Initiatives between ECOWAS and CORAF; and iii) Organization of the 14th General Assembly of CORAF in 2024.

A Fruitful Partnership with Tangible Achievements

Since 2005, ECOWAS has designated CORAF as its technical arm for the implementation of its priority agricultural research programs within the framework of operationalizing the Regional Agricultural Policy, ECOWAP. Over the years, this collaboration has facilitated joint projects and initiatives, such as the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP), the Fruit Fly Control Project, and many others.

This collaboration has enabled the pooling of human, material, and financial resources to establish a network of national specialization centers evolving into regional centers of specialization and excellence. It has also promoted cross-border exchanges of technologies and innovations and the training of numerous professionals to enhance the operational capacity of National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS). The delegation submitted a document outlining the capitalization of this ongoing partnership, currently in the editing phase, to ECOWAS for feedback before dissemination.

Towards a Collaborative Agricultural Future

The meeting also addressed a wide range of crucial topics for agricultural development in West Africa, including the working mechanisms between CORAF and national research institutions, the revision of the CORAF-ECOWAS cooperation agreement, and the revision of the tripartite agreement between ECOWAS, CILSS, and UEMOA on the implementation of the Regional Seed Regulation.

Both institutions emphasized the need to strengthen collaboration and agreed to jointly develop a roadmap. They also recognized the importance of establishing regular monitoring mechanisms beyond the annual meetings of the Steering Committee for ECOWAP projects and programs.

The session also focused on preparations for the 14th General Assembly of CORAF, scheduled for April 2024 in Cotonou, Benin, under the theme “Enhancing Collaboration with the Private Sector in West and Central Africa to Mitigate the Impact of Climate, Health, and Security Crises on Agriculture.” CORAF expressed its desire to co-sponsor the event with ECOWAS and requested financial support from ECOWAS for its organization.