Rising food prices could hit West Africa's stability, says official
Rising food prices could undermine the
stability and economic growth of West Africa, the head of the Economic
Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said at a conference in the Nigerian
capital Abuja on Monday.
Mohamed Ibn Chambas, ECOWAS executive secretary, told trade ministers from West African states that urgent action was needed.
"Our people must be able to feed themselves before they can contribute to economic development," he said.
Soaring prices for staples, driven by a global increase in the cost of oil and cereals, have sparked protests and riots in many West African nations, such as Burkina Faso and Senegal.
Chambas said the region needed to place greater emphasis on the agricultural sector to mitigate possible famine.
ECOWAS economists have warned that emergency measures to increase production and build up food reserves in the region could cost billions of dollars.
Dr Shamsudeen Usman, Nigeria's Minister of Finance, told the meeting that Nigeria alone would spend 670 million dollars on local food production and processing, dpa reported.