EAST African Community (EAC) partner states are reportedly spending more on food imports than on domestically produced.
East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Member Matthias Kasamba claims that EAC member states are spending fortunes on imported foodstuff due to their snubbing of the agricultural sector.
The Ugandan lawmaker alleged that many East Africans were now starving because EAC partner states had overlooked the sector.
“It is a shame and indictment to some of us to see over 22 million East Africans going without enough food, should we wait for more food from donors as we continually turn a blind eye on the sector?” queried Mr Kasamba on the sidelines of the fourth EAC Agriculture Budget Summit at the EAC headquarters here, last Friday.
Mr Kasamba observed that it was now a serious concern seeing the region financing farmers from Brazil and other countries as small scale farmers in the bloc languish in poverty.
Despite passing the EAC Cooperative Societies Bill, 2014, farmers in the region still have nothing to smile about, according to Mr Kasamba.
“We had passed the cooperative bill, however, four years down the lane, nothing has changed,” he alleged.
The Bill was based on the understanding that each partner state shall undertake to encourage efficient use of resources and promote development of the private sector organisations, which are engaged in all types of economic activities like the chambers of commerce and industry, confederations and associations of industry as well as agriculture, among others.
The MP also urged EAC countries to allocate enough resources to the sector, which contributes 30 per cent of Gross Domestic Product of the six partner block.
Mr Kasamba who chairs EALA’s Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources said the national budgets allocated to agriculture have recently been scaled down by partner states.
According to the Ugandan lawmaker, agricultural budgets in the partner states were registering a tremendous decline from seven to three per cent, deeming it a great disservice to the East Africans.
EALA speaker Martin Ngoga said agriculture in the region remained a critical sector in the economies of the EAC partner states, individually and collectively, adding that it was imperative for the countries to work together in focusing on modalities of improving the sector in line with the commitments the EAC Heads of State have undertaken.