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EAC pushes for harmonized agricultural policies

EAC pushes for harmonized agricultural policies

THE East African Community (EAC) partner states are gearing up to make sustainable agricultural production, trade and food security after agreeing to harmonize their agricultural policies.

The six countries are shifting the gear to operationalize regional instruments to guarantee sustainable agricultural production, trade and commodities as well as to attain sustainable regional food and nutrition security.

Speaking in Arusha at the meeting of the Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security, Chairman of the Council, Mr Lawrence Angolo Omuhaka noted that the region needed to act urgently.

Mr Omuhaka, who is also Kenyan Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Cooperatives in Kenya, said the overall target is to see all members of the EAC bloc prosper in those areas.

"This will ensure that there are appropriate actions to achieve accelerated growth and transformation for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods for the population," noted Mr Omuhaka.

The decision was reached just a few days after the newly appointed EAC Secretary General, Dr Peter Mathuki paid a courtesy call to the EAC Heads of State, pushing an agenda for improving intra-EAC trade.

Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan, since her ascension to the office has held talks with some of her EAC counterparts, seeking removal of trade barriers and enhancing relations with neighbours.

Secretary Omuhaka noted with concern that the second Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) Biennial Report submitted to the African Union (AU) General Assembly in February last year shows that in the EAC bloc it is only Rwanda that is on the right track in most targets.

He said there is a lot to be done in order to transform the agricultural sector in the EAC. It portrays the absolute and relative performance of countries.

EAC Director of Productive Sectors, Mr Jean Baptiste Havugimana, noted that more than 70 percent of industries in the EAC were agro- based while 75 percent of the traded goods are agricultural commodities and products.

“Linking agricultural trade and industry is therefore imperative in promoting agricultural production as industries provide the market for agricultural produce while trade delivers processed agricultural products to the market," he noted on behalf of the EAC Secretariat.

The director highlighted the need to promote and enhance commercial agriculture, urging the region to draw lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly on the need to promote local industries.

He observed that the region had been importing many products from outside prior to the pandemic, yet it was possible to produce them locally.

"Textile industries need to be promoted instead of depending on import of used clothes. It is necessary to promote local consumption and procurement of locally produced goods as emphasized by the Heads of State," he noted.

On regional food security the meeting noted that there was commendable commitment and progress towards meeting global and continental nutrition targets, as efforts to reduce levels of malnutrition were evident across all the partner states. However, the Sectoral Council noted that levels of stunting, underweight and anaemia are still high above the targets set under the CAADP/ Malabo Declaration.

The meeting therefore noted the need for the Partner States to direct more technical and financial resources in projects and programmes established to enhance food and nutrition security.

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Author: DEUS NGOWI

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