Accra — A meeting of chiefs of veterinary services and other stakeholders of ECOWAS Member States opened in Accra, Ghana on Monday, 2nd April 2012 to develop a coordinated regional strategy for addressing animal health diseases towards boosting food self-sufficiency and export of animals and related products by the region.
The six-day meeting was opened by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Dr. Marc Atouga, who highlighted the importance of the meeting to the realization of the objectives of the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP), which seeks to engender food self-sufficiency, especially by addressing supply deficiencies.
ECOWAP aims to ensure integrated management of the region's resources and the implementation of common policies to stimulate increased food production through the development of sustainable structures and the building of capacities that will equip the region to compete in international trade in agricultural products.
The Commissioner, who was represented by Dr. Vivian Iwar, Head of livestock development at the ECOWAS Commission, said the objective of the meeting included the development of a coordinated mechanism for surveillance and laboratory procedures for the prevention and control of trans-boundary health diseases and zoonosis. "We will develop a strategy that will enable us to produce healthy and quality livestock and products for consumption and export," the Commissioner affirmed.
The meeting, which is also being attended by livestock producer organisations and resource persons, will review the animal health situation in Member States after presentations. Participants will also discuss the epi-surveillance and laboratory service situation, and develop a regional reporting system that will input into ECOAGRIS, the regional information system for agriculture in West Africa.