FAO Regional Office for Africa

Accelerating investments towards agrifood systems transformation in West Africa and the Sahel

FAO holds the 15th Multidisciplinary Team Meeting for West Africa in Banjul, Gambia

A family photo of delegates at the event

November 28 2023, Banjul - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)Sub-Regional Office for West Africa opened its 15th annual multidisciplinary team (MDT15) meeting today. The hybrid event runs from November 28 to 1st December 2023 at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center in Banjul, Gambia, under the theme: "Accelerating investments for the transformation of agrifood systems in West Africa and the Sahel”.

Under the chairmanship of His Excellency Dr. Demba Sabally, Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of the Gambia, the meeting will address FAO's strategic focus to accelerate the transformation of agrifood systems in West Africa and the Sahel to be more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable.

“The 15th MDT is coming at a time when West Africa and the Sahel are resolute to accelerate investment towards agrifood systems transformation and to meet the SDG targets. Despite the challenges faced by our agrifood systems, we must learn to work together as nations, to share knowledge and to build better societies.

I would like to acknowledge FAO’s support to The Gambia to articulate its National Pathways for Food Systems Transformation and most recently, the stock-taking exercise to ensure that our priorities as a country and those of the region are aligned with FAO’s objectives. We continue to benefit from FAO’s support to improve nutrition, increase agricultural productivity, raise the standard of living in rural communities and contribute to national development,” said Baboucarr Joof, Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment.

" We are all aware of the myriad of challenges that the countries in the West Africa and the Sahel subregion have been grappling with. This is because, the rural and agricultural sectors constitute the predominant economic activities, engaging most of the population in every country of the subregion.”

This MDT meeting provides an essential platform for member countries, Regional Economic Commissions and partners to shape subregional and regional priorities, which will be considered at the FAO Regional Conference for Africa in Morocco. Your contributions are shaping the future of agrifood systems transformation in West Africa and the Sahel, with the goal of achieving the four "betters": better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind,” said Abebe Haile-Gabriel, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa during his remarks at the opening session.

The 15th MDT agenda covers FAO’s corporate and regional initiatives, subregional priorities and flagship programmes. The main objective is to deliberate on how to foster effective partnerships between FAO and stakeholders in the subregion for sustained and efficient delivery of programmes that ensure better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life, leaving no one behind. 

This event provides a platform for reflection by different FAO units, Member Nations, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), specialized institutions and other key stakeholders from the public and private sectors to jointly review achievements and challenges, while designing approaches to build upon successes and address constraints. 

The meeting will be an opportunity to identify investment opportunities and innovative financing mechanisms, while raising awareness of technology and innovation and their importance in building resilient agrifood systems in West Africa and the Sahel, a sub-region where vulnerable populations are estimated at 7 million people, and where climate change, extreme weather events, land use expansion, soil erosion and pest infestations are exacerbating agricultural production problems in fragile environments.

Insecurity and protracted crises persist, overwhelming the capacity of local governments, exacerbating poverty and food insecurity, displacing people, and forcing governments to reallocate budgets to peace and security. In addition, post-harvest handling, distribution, processing, and packaging, as well as structural challenges, including infrastructure, affect the quality of agricultural products and the volume of trade in West Africa.