Lawmakers at the National Assembly on Tuesday unanimously considered and ratified the ECOWAS Regulation relating to fertiliser Quality Control in the region.
Tabling the motion, Hon. Ismaila Sanyang, the Minister of Agriculture said on 2nd December 2012, ECOWAS Council of Ministers during its 69th Ordinary Session held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, adopted the ECOWAS regulations relating to fertiliser quality control. He noted that in support of this regulation, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources highlighted the need to gazette such regulations at the national level as well as the mandated Fertiliser Development Centres to coordinate the establishment and/or strengthening of the West Africa Committee for Fertiliser Quality Control (WACoFeC) and its Secretariat in line with Article 9. He said this would facilitate the implementation of the regulation by Member States the National Fertiliser Committees or Councils (NCFs).
According to him, the purpose of the regulation is to harmonise the rules governing fertiliser quality control in Member States. He added that this harmonised regulatory framework aims at safeguarding the interests of the farmers against nutrient deficiencies, adulteration, misleading claims, and short weight; safeguarding the interests of fertiliser enterprises and contributing to the creation of an enabling environment for private sector investment in the fertiliser industry; protecting the West African environment and its population against the potential dangers associated with fertiliser use, and facilitating inter and intra-state trade in fertiliser, through implementation of principles and rules mutually agreed on at regional level to dismantle trade barriers.
“In line with Article 4 of the regulations which calls on member countries to help bridge the gap between Member States’ legislation in the field of fertiliser, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment represented by NEA set up a taskforce that reviewed national and other international protocols/conventions,” he said.
Minister Sanyang added that this process was informed by the report of the first annual West Africa Fertiliser stakeholders forum held in 2013, that showed that fertiliser consumption levels in the region are generally below 10kg per hectare as compared with the world average of 107kg per hectare and also far below the target of 50kg per hectare set out by African governments through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) which were supposed to be met in 2015.
He stated that the process led to the production of the Harmonised Agro-Chemicals (fertiliser and pesticides) use in The Gambia that seeks to improve the consumption and management of agro-chemicals in the country; strengthen institutional capacities; boost the technical requirements for transporting and stocking agro-chemicals; establish national committee on agro-chemicals, and develop a database for information sharing and networking.
Seconding the motion, Hon. Njie Darboe, NAM for Jarra West said the authorities should inspect the fertiliser to know its quality, noting that farmers without fertiliser cannot have bumper harvests.
by Aji Fatou Faal-Sonko