Screenshot of the EOA-I RSC & FAO Africa virtual meeting

Screenshot of the EOA-I RSC & FAO Africa virtual meeting

The Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative’ (EOA-I) Regional Secretariat of West Africa under the able leadership of Mr Ernest Aubee of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Commission had a collaborative and interactive virtual meeting via Zoom with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Africa and West African sub-region team on Thursday, September 24, 2020.

The meeting which was moderated by Dr Eugene Rurangwa aimed at initiating interaction between the FAO and ECOWAS led ecological agriculture projects, with a view of finding commonalities and way forward to improving collaboration between the two teams. The moderator welcomed the participants at the meeting and wished the meeting fruitful and constructive deliberations. The Chairman of the Regional Steering Committee (RSC) of Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative in West African, Mr Ernest Aubee thanked the participants for gracing the occasion. He reiterated the readiness of the ECOWAS Commission and other critical stakeholders to support the cause of Agroecology in Africa and especially in West Africa. He also thanked the leadership of the FAO Africa and West African team for the meeting.

Isabel Kuehne presented the various agroecology projects of FAO (globally and in Africa), while her other team members also contributed on other specific projects in other parts of Africa. Dr. Olugbenga O. AdeOluwa made a general presentation on SDC-EOA activities in Benin, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal, as well as the West Africa Secretariat activities.

In total, eleven participants (from Africa and Rome) took part in the virtual meeting. Activities common to both parties were highlighted and possible areas of collaboration were also addressed.

In preparation for the 2021 Burkina Faso 6th West African Organic Conference (WAOC), the Regional Steering Committee management team of the Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative’ (EOA-I) in West Africa under the able leadership of Mr Ernest Aubee of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Commission had a virtual  Zoom meeting on Friday 11th of July, 2020 with major stakeholders in Burkina Faso organic and ecological agriculture sectors to discuss the proposed West African Organic Conference regional event which is slated to hold in Burkina Faso.

The Regional Steering Committee Chairman, Mr Ernest Aubee welcomed the Burkina Faso stakeholders at the virtual meeting. In his welcome address, he brought warm greetings from the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Commission’ Honourable Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Mr Sékou Sangaré. He strongly louds the efforts put together by the country stakeholders and especially the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Housing, Mr Salifou Ouédrago for providing the region with an enabling environment for another ground-breaking event in Burkina Faso in 2021 after the 2019, 5th West African Organic Conference (WAOC) in Accra Ghana.

Prominent members of the Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative’ Regional Steering Committee (RSC) in West Africa under the chairmanship of Mr Ernest Aubee of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Commission and other organic and ecological agriculture major stakeholders from the West African Organic Network (WAfrONet) and Burkina Faso were equally in attendance.

The virtual meeting discussed among other critical issues; the lessons from of the 5th West African Organic Conference (WAOC) in Accra, Ghana, the Burkina Faso 2021 Local Organising Committee (LOC), the Terms of References (ToRs), updates on 2021 Burkina Faso, etc.

At the end of the meeting, the participants resolved that despite challenges here and there, the Burkina Faso organic and ecological agriculture stakeholders are making tremendous progress towards the planning of the 6th West African Organic Conference in Burkina Faso. The meeting had fruitful discussions and came up with constructive resolutions and recommendations for a successful 6th WAOC to be hosted by Burkina Faso in 2021.

 

 

 

The Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative’ (EOA-I) Regional Secretariat of West Africa under the able leadership of Mr Ernest Aubee of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Commission organised the 4th Regional Steering Committee (RSC) virtual meeting to review the activities of EOA in West Africa on Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 April, 2020. The online meeting took place despite the Covid-19 pandemic causing lockdown of activities in many countries.

In attendance at the meeting were the Regional Steering Committee members of Ecological Organic Agriculture in West Africa, joined some strategic stakeholders of Organic Agriculture from Burkina Faso, Senegal and Ghana.

The virtual meeting was an opportunity to discuss critical issues in the region related to organic and ecological agriculture, such as; update on the West Africa EOA Regional Secretariat’ activities, update on EOA project implementation in Benin, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal, opportunities for extending EOA to other countries of West Africa, update on Organic Agriculture Knowledge Hub in West Africa, review of the 5th West African Organic Conference (WAOC) in Accra, Ghana, and update on 2021 Burkina Faso 6th West African Organic Conference (WAOC), etc.

In his welcome address, the EOA West Africa Regional Steering Committee Chairman, Mr Ernest Aubee welcomed the participants at the meeting. He expressed warm greetings from the ECOWAS’ Honourable Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Mr Sékou Sangaré. He laid emphasis on the need for a strong Ecological Organic Agriculture sector which he believes will enable the region to overcome the issue of food insecurity, environmental challenges and provide reliable alternatives to the current situation. He also addressed the Covid-19 pandemic issue which is seriously affecting the world in general and Africa in particular. He prayed that COVID 19 will soon be contained and brought under control. The Chairman of the occasion appreciated the Regional Secretariat for the efforts put in place and encouraged the implementing countries for their resilience in upholding organic agriculture in the region. He also thanked the participants of the virtual meeting and wished the Regional Steering Committee fruitful deliberations.

At the end of the two-day meeting, the participants at the 4th Regional Steering Committee meeting of the Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative had fruitful discussions which led to strong resolutions and recommendations.

Cross section of participants at the 5th West African Organic Conference (WAOC) in Accra, Ghana 2019

The 5th edition of the West African Organic Conference (WAOC) has officially been declared opened by honourable Owusu Afriyie Akoto (MP) Minister of Agriculture of Ghana, ably represented. In his opening remarks, he welcomed the participants to Ghana. Notable were participants from the global organic confraternity who gathered at the University of Ghana, Legon to discuss the state of ecological organic agriculture in the region and in the world at large. More than 350 participants converged to Accra. Key stakeholders in ecological organic agriculture such as; the African Union (AU) Commission on Agriculture, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission on Agriculture, African Organic Network (AfrONet), West African Organic Network (WAfrONet), Intercontinental Network of Organic Farmers Organisations (INOFO), GIZ-Ghana under the auspices of EOAP-Ghana and a host of other organic stakeholders converged to the Ghana to discuss: Organic agriculture, life for all between November 12th and 16th 2019.

 

Representative of Honourable Owusu Afriyie Akoto (MP), Minister for Agriculture of Ghana during the official opening of the 5th edition of the West African Organic Conference (WAOC)

 Also notable were welcome addresses from; the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), Dr Fenzy welcomed the participants to Ghana and wished them fruitful conference. The Chairman of the West African Organic Network, Prof Davo Simplice in his welcome remarks thanked both the local and regional organising committees for the efforts put in place for the realisation of the event. Furthermore, Mr Ernest Aubee, the Chairman of the Regional Steering Committee (RSC) of the Ecological and Organic Initiative (EOA-I) in West Africa in his opening speech on behalf of His Excellency Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, the President ECOWAS Commission and the Honourable Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Sékou Sangaré, brought warm greetings and welcomed the gathering to West Africa and reiterates the commitment of the ECOWAS Commission to see a vibrant regional organic agriculture. In addition, in his opening speech on behalf of the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Commission (AUC), Her Excellency, Amb. Josefa Correia Sacko, Dr. Simplice Nouala congratulated the host country for putting together all it takes to organise a wonderful event.

During the Conference, key presentations and discussions centred on scientific research, policy and markets, farmers’ innovation information sharing were discussed.  The last day witnessed series of meetings such as the West African Ecological Organic Agriculture stakeholders’, the Regional Steering Committee and the West African Organic Network General Assembly meetings where crucial issues were ironed out. At the end of the programme, the participants at the 5th West African Organic Conference (WAOC) in Accra, Ghana agree to meet in Burkina Faso in 2021 for the 6th West African Organic Conference.

 Participants at Regional Workshop on Organic Standards and Certification @Bellecote, Abidjan

The African Union Commission in collaboration with West Africa Organic Network (WAfrONet) organises a four-day workshop titled Regional Workshop on Organic Standards and Certification from July 30 to August 2 at Belle Cote, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. This event brings together major stakeholders in organic sector from different countries of the Region. This workshop draws its participants from the ECOWAS Region, specifically from Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, Mali, Senegal and Côte D’Ivoire.

Mr Jonathan Nyarko Ocran while delivering the opening statement

 In his opening statement, Mr Jonathan Nyarko Ocran, Policy Officer, Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission, welcomed the participants to the workshop which is seeking to train organic farmers, exporters and practitioners on organic standards and certification systems. He reiterates the undeniable fact that the agriculture sector including organic agriculture plays a prominent role in the economies of most African countries.  He stated that the sector contributes more than 50 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the countries and provides livelihoods to many men and women in Africa. He underlines the fact that organic produce from African farmers is destined for export and that organic certification is key to those markets, hence, the need for the workshop.

Mr Jonathan Nyarko Ocran highlighted the main focus of the workshop which include the following:-

  • To reduce cost of certification and increase access to organic certification for organic producers, processors and exporters in the ECOWAS Region.
  • To increase organic trade between ECOWAS countries and the main export markets of the United States, the European Union and Japan.
  • To develop organic certification training packages for farmers and exporters in the ECOWAS Region.
  • To improve compliance with organic standards; and
  • To develop a system of recognizing African trained inspectors through the formation of African Organic Inspectors Association.

Mr Jonathan Nyarko wished the participants a successful and enjoyable training programme and officially declared the training workshop opened.

Group photograph of EOA stakeholders at the Phase II Inception Workshop Meeting 17th – 18th July, 2019 @Onomo Hotel, Dakar, Senegal

The Biovision Africa Trust (BvAT) organised an inception workshop to mark the beginning of the Phase II of the SDC support to Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative in West Africa. The Phase I was implemented in eight African countries; Benin, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda from 2014 to April 2019. The Phase II will be implemented in the first eight countries including Rwanda. The workshop was tagged “West Africa Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative Implementing Partners Inception Workshop on Rolling Out of Phase 2 Project (May 2019- April 2023) funded by the SDC” took place from July 17-18, 2019 at Onomo Hotel, Dakar, Senegal. The event had in attendance stakeholders from the region implementing partners; Mali, Senegal, Benin and Nigeria.

 

The chairman of the inception workshop, Dr David Amudavi, the Executive Director of BvAT after welcoming the participants takes them through the salient points and reeled out the four major objectives of the event; un-package Phase II new strategies, develop common understanding of the project elements, procedures and implementation, discuss the development of partner work plans and familiarise with contractual requirements and obligations including project and financial guidelines.

There were discussions on the state of implementation from the implementing countries and intra-pillars discussions were also conducted. This will help to synergise actions and focus. Best practices, lessons and challenges learnt from the Phase I were reviewed to avoid further mistakes

Major issues such as; weaknesses from partner organisations, prudent project management, creation of impacts, etc. were discussed.

Cross section of participants at the EOA-I Phase II Inception Workshop Meeting @Onomo Hotel, Dakar, Senegal

One of the new developments in the Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative was the introduction of the Grant Management System (GMS) into the New Phase.

Professor Davo Vodouhe Simplice in while appreciating, thanked BvAT for organising such event, the representative of the ministries from various countries, the EOA stakeholders for gracing the workshop. He implored the participants to take good note of the recommendations of the discussions. In addition, Doctor David Amudavi, the convener of the workshop in his closing remarks talked about the new partners that will join the project and also ensured the gathering that the recommendations of the workshop are well-taken and the working documents will soon be shared as soon as they are ready. He thanked the participants for coming. The West Africa Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative implementing partners inception workshop on rolling out of Phase II project (May 2019- April 2023) funded by the SDC came to an end at 15:30 Dakar time on July 18, 2019.

Group photograph of RSC Members @ibis hotels

The 2nd Regional Steering Committee (RSC)  meeting of  West African Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative’ under the chairmanship of Mr. Ernest Aubee of the ECOWAS-Commission took place at Ibis hotels, Ikeja Lagos, Nigeria on April 26 & 27, 2019. The Chairman welcomed everybody to the 2nd Regional Steering Committee (RSC) meeting. He thanked the members and the staff of the Regional Secretariat for being dutiful. He remarked that a lot has been done on EOA at the regional and country levels. According to him, EOA is gaining prominence in West Africa. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission sent her goodwill messages and encouraged the RSC members to do more in flagging high the banner of EOA. The Chairman added that members will review the rolled-over and 2018 activities of the regional and propose activities for the year 2019.

At the end of the two-day meeting, many fruitful deliberations and strong decisions vis-à-vis Ecological Organic Agriculture activities in the region were made. The RSC members reviewed the rolled-over 2018/2019 work plan and reports. The meeting also proposed some activities for the year 2019.

Regional Steering Committee during the 2nd RSC meeting

In his closing remarks, the Chairman of the Regional Steering Committee, Mr Ernest Aubee of the ECOWAS-Commission thanked the members for finding time in their very tight schedule to attend the meeting and deliberate on Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative in West Africa. He also thanked the Secretariat for working hard to put things together and implement the Abuja meeting recommendations.

Executing Agency of Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative in Africa, Biovision Africa Trust (BvAT), organised a five-day workshop on the Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative (EOA-I) in West Africa after a similar programme in Machakos, Kenya in East Africa which had in attendance stakeholders from; Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania). The workshop takes place between 13th and 17th of August 2018 at Riviera Hotel, Cotonou, Republic of Benin. This exercise brought together 40 participants from Nigeria, Mali, Senegal and Benin.

Welcoming the gathering to the workshop, Professor Simplice Davo Vodouhe, from the University of Abomey-Calavi (UAC), Cotonou, thanked the participants for gracing the occasion and hoped the opportunity would provide a fruitful and engaging session. That this will afford them the platform to share experiences and learn from each other. Mr Aimé Bokonon-Ganta, the Chair of the Benin EOA National Steering Committee welcomed the participants to Benin and to the workshop and looked forward to having successful deliberations. In his opening remarks, Dr David Amudavi, the Executive Director of Biovision Africa Trust was glad to have a good number of participants from implementing West African countries (Mali, Senegal, Nigeria and Benin) of the Initiative. He highlighted the importance of the workshop, as an opportunity for the stakeholders to validate two major findings of Phase 1; the Organizational and partner Capacity Assessment report and the External Evaluation Report.

During this planning workshop, the stakeholders shared their success stories, achievements, weaknesses and way-forward of EOA-I’ 1st phase. Afterwards, the participants at the programme considered strategic areas that could be addressed to help achieve the Initiative’ aims and objectives.

Furthermore, the gathering considered two (2) general salient points considered critical to the success of the Initiative in the region:  robust monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework and Effective grant Management.

The 5-day workshop enabled the stakeholders to provide vital information which would serve as basis inputs for planning for the preparation of the grand proposal for support by the Swiss Government through its agency, the Swiss Development Cooperation, in the next phase of four years.

In his closing remarks, the Beninese minister of Agriculture ably represented by Mr Kwakanou Bonaventure, the permanent secretary of the ministry, lauded the Initiative and reaffirmed the support of the government to organic agriculture. Pointing at the fact that agriculture is the bedrock for sustainable development, Mr Bonaventure stated that the emergence of Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative paves ways for a sound food security system in the region in particular and in Africa in general. Thereafter bidding the participants safe journey back to their various destinations.

The picture above: the rep of the minister receiving promotional materials from the leader of the ECOWAS led delegate.

 

As part of the on-going Regional Steering Committee meeting of the Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative in West Africa at ECOWAS Commission Headquarters at Abuja (May 3 – 4, 2018), the delegates of the meeting visited the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh on May 3rd, 2018.  The delegate led by Mr Ernest Aubee, who is the Chairman of Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative in West Africa and the Head of Agriculture, Directorate of Agriculture and Rural Development  of the  ECOWAS Commission, Abuja. Other members of the delegate came from Benin Republic, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal, among which Prof. Victor I.O. Olowe (the President of Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria) and Dr Olugbenga AdeOluwa (Country Coordinator of Ecological Organic Agriculture in Nigeria) represented Nigeria.

The delegate was received by Engr. M. O. Owolabi (one of the Directors at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) on behalf of the minister, who unavoidably couldn’t attend the meeting. Among other discussions, the ECOWAS led delegate raised the awareness of Ecological Organic Agriculture in Nigeria and West Africa, laying emphasis on its benefits of food security and healthy food production for healthy living. The delegate requested the Minister of Agriculture to be one of the Organic Agriculture Champions in West Africa and also used the opportunity to announce the forthcoming National Organic Agriculture Business Summit (NAOBS) on July 10 – 13 at Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja. The ministry also used the opportunity to present some issues on organic inputs (herbicide, pesticide and fungicide) and adequate research confronting development of organic agriculture in Nigeria. According to the representative of the minister, the forthcoming National Organic Agriculture Business Summit should address these challenges.

 

 

 

Members of EOA-I in West Africa the Regional Steering Committee of @ECOWAS headquarters, Abuja, Nigeria

The Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative in West Africa meeting took place between 3rd and 4th May 2018 at the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Commission headquarters, Abuja, Nigeria to inaugurate its Steering Committee. The meeting was chaired by Mr Sékou Sangaré, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources ably represented by Mr Ernest Aubee the Chairman of the Regional Steering Committee of EOA-I in West Africa. The meeting had in attendance fourteen (14) participants from Benin, Mali, Senegal and Nigeria. Different issues relating to EOA-I activities in the region and in Africa were discussed.

Mr Ernest Aubee on behalf of the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources welcomed everyone present and discussed about the need for a vibrant Ecological Organic Agriculture which will enhance food security for feeding more than three hundred and fifty million people of the region and to tackle environmental challenges, which are causing a lot of issues. He informed the meeting that the ECOWAS Commission just lunched a project on agro-ecological agriculture in West Africa funded by French Government to the tune of eight millions Euros. He noted that the project is designed to promote agro-ecological practices in West African region. “This project is designed to promote agro-ecological agriculture in the region by implementing it in five pilot countries; Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Ghana and Mali in the bid to spread it to the entire ECOWAS region.  Mr Ernest Aubee added that the project will work on capacity building, technologies and raise awareness. He believes it will support other similar projects in West Africa. The ECOWAS Commission will also work closely with regional and continental clusters in ensuring that EOA becomes widespread. He also encouraged the member states to ensure that Organic Agriculture is implemented in their countries as a matter of priority. He ended his message by wishing the Regional Steering Committee fruitful deliberations.

At the end of the two-day meeting, some salient issues were addressed and fruitful resolutions were made. The Regional Steering Committee of eight (8) members was set up and formalized, they are; Mr Ernest Aubee, the Chairman, Prof Simplice D. Vodouhe, the Vice-Chairman, Dr. Olugbenga O. AdeOluwa, the Secretary while Mr. Ernest Pedro Comlan, Mr Seydou Tangara, Sir Mike Elechi, Dr. Emile V. Coly and Dr. Abdulai Jalloh as  members. The Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative in West Africa considered activities in the four (4) implementing countries through their CLOs. An overview of EOA activities in West Africa and Africa was also presented. The Committee paid an advocacy/courtesy visit to the Hon. Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The Chairman presented ECOWAS perspective on how to expand EOA-I. The Committee considered the 2018 work-plan and the roll-over activities of 2014-2016 and 2017.