The Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Tunis, has urged his colleagues and Members of Parliament to pressure their home governments to increase budgetary allocation to agriculture.
He said that poor funding of agriculture, particularly amid the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, will lead to severe food shortages and hunger in the ECOWAS region.
Addressing journalists in Guinea Bissau at the ongoing delocalised meeting to discuss agriculture, food security and COVID-19, the speaker said that the region was already witnessing shortfall in supply of food.
According to a statement issued by the parliament on Thursday, the delocalised meeting was organised by the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources, Industry and Private Sector, Health, Energy, Mines and Social Affairs, Gender and Women Empowerment.
The speaker said that the need for more funding had become even more necessary as food shortages were already being witnessed, with the UN estimating that 40 million West Africans face food shortages in the coming months.
The speaker noted that the Parliament had already established a network in the Fourth Legislature on investment in agriculture, adding that ECOWAS will provide support for farmers in the sub region against famine.
He stressed that the legislature was working very hard to ensure that all the decisions taken in the ECOWAS especially on agriculture and food security are implemented in the national assemblies of member countries.
“Parliamentarians being the ones that handle the budget of every nation are very key in ensuring that there is proper investment in agriculture.
“So, the whole idea of having these seminars, meetings, networks is to ensure that parliamentarians put pressure on their respective governments to ensure that adequate resources are allocated for agriculture and food security.
“In the last few weeks we have escalated our fight for food security because we are very much aware of the fact that the months from October to December are budget months for every parliament in the sub region.
“Most countries including Nigeria, which is the biggest economy in West Africa, are all working on their budgets.
“So, we are hoping that these advocacies will lure the MPs to put pressure on their governments to ensure that more resources are allocated for the agricultural sector,” he said.
Mr Tunis reiterated his vision to bring ECOWAS Parliament to the people by working directly with the national assemblies of all the countries in West Africa.