The establishment of the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (RAAF) is part of the process of making the Agricultural Policy of the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAP/CAADP operational.
The Summit of heads of state and the council of Ministers decided to create a specialized technical body to manage ECOWAP projects and programmes while building the capacities of bodies comprising the ECOWAS Commission, particularly the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources. The commission therefore created the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (RAAF) through regulation C/REG.1/08/11; It was officially launched in Lome, Togo on the 27th September 2013.
RAAF is a technical body that specialises in implementation placed under the aegis of the Commissioner responsible for Agriculture, the Environment and Water Resources. It reports to the Commissioner and decision making bodies of ECOWAS.
In light of the purpose of ECOWAP/CAADP, which is to promote food security and sovereignty as well as regional integration in West Africa, and the objectives of the agricultural investment programmes (national and regional), the mandate assigned to the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food is to “ensure the technical implementation of the regional investment programmes and plans contributing to making the ECOWAS agricultural policy operational by calling on the regional institutions, bodies and actors with recognised competencies”.
Implementing the investment programmes requires the creation of sufficiently well-equipped and accountable governance institutions in an institutional landscape marked by the duplication of bodies and activities. With this in mind, the Agency is the technical institution through which ECOWAS can fully assume its sovereign role in accompanying the regional actors and institutions in the field of cooperation in implementing the investment plans. As such, the Agency is not directly responsible for executing the actions in the field, instead negotiating contracts with the technical institutions and all other actors demonstrating recognised competencies.
More specifically, RAAF has the mandate to:
strengthen the technical capacities of the ECOWAS Commission to intervene and take action, in particular those of the Department of Agriculture, the Environment and Water Resources. in the implementation of investment programmes to enable it fully play its sovereign role including, strategic orientation, regulations, guidance, monitoring and evaluation and strategic monitoring.
coordinate and streamlining the activities of the specialized technical institutions in the agricultural and agri-food sectors: agriculture, stock farming, fishing and forestry
contribute to building the capacities of the regional actors in the preparation of records as well as implementing and monitoring activities. The Agency must contribute to improving the services of the different technical cooperation institutions and the other regional actors operating within the agricultural sector such as the private sector, professional agricultural organisations and civil society. This accompaniment involves thematic training as well as support for the implementation and monitoring of projects.
The legal status of the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food is synonymous to that of all specialised agencies of ECOWAS. It is a technical body that specialises in agriculture and is responsible for executing a certain number of objectives relating to the implementation of agricultural policy.
It is designed to be an autonomous institution outside the Commission, but with operating rules compliant with those in force within ECOWAS from a legal, administrative and financial standpoint.
As such, it enjoys autonomy in its financial management in accordance with the provisions in force within ECOWAS. It has internal regulations and management rules (personnel specifications, guide to administrative and financial management procedures) compliant with those in force within ECOWAS.
The organizational structure of RAAF includes two categories in accordance with current practice, namely:
Governing body of ECOWAS
Consultatis Committee for Food and Agriculture
Administrative and Financial Unit