The ECOWAS Commission said on Wednesday that it would strengthen the regional market information system to promote the agricultural sector and achieve food sustainability.
Mr Osei Tutu Agyman-Duah, Acting Director, ECOWAS Community Computer Centre, said this at the launch of the website of the West African Market Information System Network (WAMIS-NET) in Abuja.
Agyman-Duah said that the launch of the website would enable member countries take advantage of agriculture information and practices across the region and to explore ways to share best practices in promoting the agriculture sector.
“You need information to make decisions. This particular event is the West Africa Marketing Information Systems that ECOWAS has put together a network of such marketing producing systems across the member states of ECOWAS.
“The idea is to make sure that this information is available in terms of the products and the prices at the local as well as all the regional market and this information is available on the net and what it affords us to do is that it gives opportunity to all those whom access that information to better plan their purchases and whatever they want to do with what they can access.
“The web gives you that opportunity to have a virtual space to put whatever you want on the net for people to see; it’s agric products basically.
“There are three levels of prices; there is the farm gate price, there is the wholesale and also the retail and all these are available on the net, all that you need is the Uniform Resource Locator,
“When you talk about local farmers, these days everybody has some kind of smartphone; all that he needs to know is how to access the information.“
The ECOWAS representative said that the regional bloc would to partner with relevant stakeholders to address challenges faced in the area of food production through information provided.
He said that access to information would also provide stakeholders with modalities on job creation for youths in the sub-region in line with the ECOWAS Vision 2020.
“We want to impact and touch the lives of ordinary citizens and make sure they can access and use the information.
“It is not just going to be a limited kind of thing; we are going towards how best we can involve farmers and partner with a whole range of stakeholders because as we have the information, we can know where there is abundance and scarcity and which markets we can move products to.
“That is where business is created and where we can get the youth involved and create job opportunities for them.”
He encouraged member states to cooperate in achieving relevant results towards the economic development of the sub-region.
Also speaking with newsmen, Mr Salifou Diara, Coordinator, WAMIS-NET, said the network was created to enable member states share best practices in the area of food and agriculture.
Diara said the market information system would enable stakeholders support governments of member states towards addressing challenges faced in the food and agriculture sector.
“At the country level we noticed that we need information from other countries to make good analysis within the country because you cannot do any good analysis of markets without knowing how it is happening in neighboring countries.
“We set up the network to make exchange of information among member states possible and to use this platform to disseminate information to better inform producers and everybody who is on the marketing chain.”
Also, Mr. Kofi Debrah, a representative of the International Fertiliser Development Centre, Ghana, said the centre partnered with WAMIS-NET to complement the efforts of the network and boost food agriculture productivity.
“We have specialized in the market information systems through our various projects and we have been working with RESIMAO since 2005
“RESIMAO has been concentrating on the collection and dissemination of product prices in several markets but we have come in to add the prices for the fertilizers, the seeds and the pesticides so that we are complementary.
“It is through our project called the MILL Plus project that has worked with ECOWAS to support.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that WAMIS-NET is a Network of Market Information Systems from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Togo, and Nigeria.
Together, they provide to all stakeholders up to date and accurate information on 400 rural and urban agricultural commodity markets via different media.
The network monitors the development of the agricultural sector through the collection and publication of related statistics and analytical reports.
The network, which has as its French derivative Réseau des Systèmes d’Information des Marchés en Afrique de l’Ouest (RESIMAO), was established in 2000 with the aim of promoting food security, poverty reduction and regional trade.