CORAF, ECOWAS Review Joint Initiatives

A meeting to review joints initiatives by CORAF and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) takes place in the Togolese capital of Lomé, from December 15 to 17, 2021.

CORAF is a technical partner of ECOWAS and has undertaken in recent decades several regional interventions, contributing to the achievement of its agriculture policy, ECOWAP.

The three-day meeting would allow both organizations to align their activities better. 

“CORAF has implemented many interventions in the past with resounding results regarding its contribution to the regional agriculture policy. This meeting offers us an opportunity to take stock of what has worked while drawing lessons to better collaborate in the future,” says Dr. Abdou Tenkouano, Executive Director of CORAF.

The first formal cooperative agreement between CORAF and ECOWAS was signed on November 1, 2005, in Abuja, Nigeria. From this collaborative agreement, ECOWAS expected CORAF to implement innovative research in the agriculture and agri-food sectors. Over the years, both institutions have expanded the agreement, mandating CORAF to lead the reform process of the seed regulation and implementing different collaborative programs on behalf of ECOWAS.

What is the Agenda of the Meeting?

On the agenda of the Lomé workshop, participants are expected to discuss the following four key points:

  • The National Centers of Specialization / Regional Centers of Excellence (NCoS/RCoEs): CORAF currently operates nine national centers of specialization (NCoS) across West Africa. The nine NCoS were established with an understanding that they will progressively graduate to Regional Centers of Excellence (RCoE). Two out of the nine centers have graduated to RCoE. They include the dry cereal research hub based in Senegal and the roots and tuber center in Ghana. Participants will assess the state of the nine NCoS/RCoE and determine the best way to support them going forward. 
  • The integrated agri-inputs strategy: CORAF, in the past three years, undertook an elaborate process to develop the pioneer integrated agri-input strategy of West Africa. At the Lomé meeting, both parties will examine and agree on the remaining steps to validate the strategy and pivot to its implementation. CORAF was mandated to draft the strategy by ECOWAS, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS). The International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) has developed a document for a smart fertilizer subsidy and CORAF initiated a process to develop a smart seed subsidy strategy. As ECOWAS has suggested that CORAF takes the lead in the process for both inputs, the meeting in Lomé would allow stakeholders to clarify what is expected from CORAF in this regard.
  • The support of the Swiss Cooperation and the Youth Employability Program: On November 30, 2020, CORAF and the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) signed an agreement that would benefit around ten million people in West Africa and which covers the period 2020-2024, thus constituting the first phase of a 12-year commitment between the two partners. In addition, ECOWAS has also received support from the SDC for the implementation of a youth employability strategy. Since the SDC funds both projects, the meeting would then allow CORAF and ECOWAS to discuss the practical arrangements for the implementation of the two projects.
  • The multi-year cooperation framework: CORAF and ECOWAS would envisage defining a multi-year cooperation framework for several initiatives of regional interest.

CORAF and ECOWAS intend to seize the opportunity of the Lomé discussions, which will be guided by these four key points, to project themselves into the future and define cooperation frameworks that would enable the sustainability and perpetuation of the legacies of their joint interventions. 

There is still a lot of work to be done, and if we want to achieve the Zero Hunger goal by 2030, we will have to intensify our joint efforts and above all think about the sustainability of these initiatives,”

says Dr. Tenkouano.

What Would be the Outcomes of the Meeting?

The expected results of the meeting are as follows: 

  1. Participants to the workshop are informed of the vitality of each NCoS and the remaining challenges; 
  2. Participants agree on the form of support to be given to NCoS that have met the criteria for RCoE accreditation; 
  3. A roadmap is defined for the ECOWAS RCoE accreditation process; 
  4. ECOWAS and CORAF agree on a roadmap for the follow-up of the agri-inputs regional integrated strategy;
  5. ECOWAS takes ownership of the SDC program and agrees to chair its regional steering committee; and
  6. The regional organizations and CORAF agree on a roadmap to establish a multi-year cooperation framework.

Several financial and technical partners of CORAF are expected to attend the meeting. This includes representatives of the World Bank, the European Union, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the SDC. Other participants include the NCoS/RCEs heads and representatives UEMOA and CILSS.