More than 200 religious leaders, representatives of Farmers’ Federations and Women’s Associations from different regions of Mali, and high ranking delegation from Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Benin participated in the official launching of the Week of Action on Food Security and Nutrition 2014, held in Tominian, 465 kilometers outside the Malian Capital, Bamako.
In an introductory statement, the Treasurer of the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa, The Very Rev. Jacques Agnimel of Côte d'Ivoire informed farmers and religious leader that the ecumenical delegation was in Mali to Mali to celebrate and appreciate the works of local food producers, who build local economies. According to Very Rev. Agnimel, “farmers are important source of life, health and our local economies”. He called for prayers and homage for farmers to have bountiful harvest and for their labor to yield better results. He called for fair wages to agro ecological food producers, and respect for human dignity for all farmers in West Africa as an act of solidarity.
The week of action highlighted the need to examine people food choices and called for policy changes that ensure the right to food for everyone. The World Food Day celebration was characterized by singing and dancing focusing on the key role that family farmers play as the primary custodian of traditional food seeds, the land and ecosystem.
In a pastoral letter sent to the churches ahead of the week of action, the Secretary – General, The Rev. Dr. Tolbert Thomas Jallah, Jr. called the church leaders to speak out on Food Justice in West Africa, advocate for fair state and donor support for small-scale family farmers who provide 90% of the food consumed in the region. He emphasized on the significant role of women in food production and recalled that women's rights to land and agricultural resources remain a major importance: "Churches should give recognition to women’s role in food production, from farmer, to housewife, and working mother as the major food provider and the foundation of our food system. Shamefully, they are the most vulnerable, the most hungry, facing malnutrition, maternal and child death. This has prevented many countries in West Africa in achieving the millennium development goals 2015. Rev. Dr. Jallah classified it as contrary to God’s purpose for His Creation and as injustice, and called on the churches to see the situation as unfit in the 21st century.
The 2014 Churches’ Week Action ended with a call for the realization of commitments towards agricultural development and food security in West Africa. On the issue of women’s rights, Mrs. Kadidia Baro, National Campaign Coordinator of FECCIWA Food Security in Mali, said that, "the promise of the Malian government to allocate at least 10% of state funds in land development plans to women’s groups and 10% to youngster, is a first step by the government. We are now waiting for the revision of the Land Tenure Law, currently in progress, to provide more measures accommodating and strengthening the roles of women in food security. "