Mr Clement Eledi, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, on Wednesday stressed the need for different farmers' organisations in Ghana to form a single platform to promote economic development and eliminate poverty and food insecurity.
Speaking at a two-day consultative workshop on the Economic Community of West African States Agriculture Policy (ECOWAP), Mr Eledi said a single farmers' platform would overcome the forces that marginalized the region in the global economy.
The workshop is being organized by the Farmers Organisation Network in Ghana (FONG), an affiliate of the largest Farmers Organisation Network in West Africa, formed as a follow-up to the World Food Summit held in Rome, this year.
The workshop is aimed at bringing together participants from the various farmers associations in the country to deliberate and influence the ECOWAAP in making inputs to agriculture policies.
Mr Eledi said that Ghanaian farmers had to take the initiative to ensure that the broad perspectives of all farmers were reflected in the regional document.
He said the consultative workshop was a move in the right direction and asked the participants to use the opportunity to make the desired inputs into the final policy document.
Mr Eledi stressed that it was when all stakeholders in agriculture supported the political leadership in the region in the formulation of policies that the region would overcome underdevelopment.
He informed the farmers that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture would also be organizing a consultation forum on November 29 to deliberate on the same policy and expressed the hope that their deliberations would enable the Ministry to come out a with a quality national document.
"As a Ministry, we are glad that these activities are taking place so that as a nation and a Sub-Region we can achieve food security and development together.
" The Common Agriculture Policy for ECOWAS is a step towards integrating agriculture in the Sub-Region and began last year in the Francophone countries without the participation of farmer's organisations from Anglophone countries.
Although a draft of ECOWAP had been produced, the inclusion of the perspectives of the generality of farmers is yet to be achieved.
The need to develop the ECOWAP has its roots in the revised ECOWAS Treaty adopted on July 24, 1993.
Article 25 of the treaty, which is devoted to agriculture and food security, stipulates that Member States shall agree to cooperate by adopting a common agricultural policy.
This goal is also driven by the need to promote economic development and eliminate poverty and food insecurity, as well as to overcome unfair trade terms.
Mr Pape Djiby Kone, Deputy FAO Representative to Ghana, said it was important for Africa to constantly reflect on problems of poverty and hunger and to seriously commit itself to finding workable measures to reduce them because nearly half of the 800 million hungry people in the world were located in Sub-Saharan Africa.
He said although about 65 per cent of West Africa's population were engaged in agriculture the Region faced chronic and periodic food insecurity because of problems of poverty, civil unrest and unfavourable climatic conditions.
Mr Kone gave the assurance that the FAO was ready to cooperate with development partners and stakeholders, who agreed to share the responsibility, risk and resources to achieve its common objective of ensuring food for all.
He said the FAO Regional Office for Africa and the FAO Representative for Ghana would continue to make the necessary efforts in terms of exchange and analysis of information, promotion of policy dialogue and enhancing farmers' organisations participation in FAO programmes.
Mrs Lydia Sasu, Coordinator of FONG, said the workshop would provide a platform for farmers to identify their challenges and opportunities, come out with functional interventions, to inform and influence the regional agricultural policy.
Participants are drawn from the Ghana Agricultural Workers Union, Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen and the Apex Farmers Organisation of Ghana.