FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva (photo) on Wednesday concluded his official visit to the West African region in Togo, where he congratulated President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé on progress made by the country in the fight against hunger.
During a meeting with Gnassingbé and Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Ouro-Koura Agadazi, Graziano da Silva praised Togo for being one of 11 African countries that has already achieved the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of hungry people between 1990 and 2015 – three years before the target deadline.
He encouraged the country to work towards the more rigorous goal set by the World Food Summit (WFS) in 1996 to reduce by half the absolute number of undernourished people by 2015.
The two officials also discussed a cash transfer programme launching in Togo in January 2014 as part of Togo’s efforts to fight hunger and malnutrition.
The Director-General suggested that Togo should join Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger and Senegal in the Purchase from Africans for Africa Programme (PAA Africa), which sources food for school feeding programmes from local family farmers.
Inspired by the success of a food purchase programme in Brazil, the initiative is jointly managed by FAO and the World Food Programme in close cooperation with Brazil and the UK.
Graziano da Silva on Wednesday also visited the newly launched Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), where he met the agency’s Executive Director, Ousseini Salifou.
The agency was established in September this year to implement regional investment plans for agriculture, forestry and livestock and has its headquarters in the Togolese capital.
The Director-General confirmed his support for the creation of an ECOWAS regional food reserve that would permit West Africa to respond to food crises, particularly in the Sahel.
FAO is collaborating with ECOWAS on the Hunger-free Initiative for West Africa, co-funded by the German government, and on a Spanish-funded project to support the implementation of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in the region.
The Director-General held meetings with representatives from the private sector and with civil society and farmer organizations in Togo.
Among other initiatives, FAO is working on a project to strengthen the role of producer organizations in the commercial processing of agricultural products in the country, where agriculture accounts for around 52 percent of employment nationwide.
Togo was the last port of call on Graziano da Silva’s official visit to West Africa, which also took the FAO Director-General to Mauritania, Senegal and Benin.