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New dawn for EAC potato farmers

New dawn for EAC potato farmers

POTATO farmers in the East African Community (EAC) region have every reason to smile following the launch of the ‘Jumuiya Potato Platform’.

The initiative by the EAC and the East African Business Council (EABC) through the German Development Agency (GIZ), aims to harness the potential of the potato value chain in the bloc, to enable proper production and commercialisation of the food crop on the realisation that it is one of the key agricultural produces traded and consumed widely.

Over 2.2 million farmers across the EAC partner states eke out a living from the potato sector.

According to a statement by the regional business council, the platform has now been formalised under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) structure to enable sustainable research, innovation and free trade right from the potato seed.

“The platform has been arrived at after a series of engagements between stakeholders representing national governments on the public front, farmers and traders on the private side with guidance from the EAC Secretariat and the EABC,” read part of the statement.

Speaking in Kampala recently, EAC Director of Productive Sector Jean Baptiste Havugimana noted that such an initiative will go a long way in scaling up the production and marketing of the food crop which is currently cultivated on slightly over 400,000 hectares.

“We need to harness the potential of the potato sub-sector to fight poverty but also ensure food security right from producing our own potato seed which is largely imported from Europe,” he said.

On his part, EABC Chief Executive Officer John Boco Kalisa appealed to both the public and private sectors to work together towards having policies that will promote the sub-sector and see that it overcomes challenges like post-harvest losses which are estimated at 240million US per year.

He equally urged the elected leaders of the ‘Jumuiya Potato Platform’ to advocate for ease of trade of potatoes and integrate the value chains in the sector.

“While cross-border trade can be a major challenge in practice, the ‘Jumuiya Potato Platform’ should facilitate the flow of technical and market-related information so that regulations are harmonised to favour better standards and prices in the interest of the farmers and consumers.”

In the EAC, potatoes are key to food security and to reviving local economies. It has been ranked as one of the Top 10 strategic staple crops for food and income security in the region. However, production of certified seed potatoes is still in its infancy in all EAC partner states.

Meanwhile, the East African Community last week mounted a daylong fire safety training exercise for the staff of its three Organs based its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.

The EAC held the fire safety training exercise in collaboration with the Office of the Regional Commander for Fire and Rescue Force, Arusha region.

The main objective of the exercise was for employees to gain insight on Fire Safety, Prevention and Control Measures in the workplace environment.

The Principal Human Resource Officer called the meeting to order highlighting the need for participation in the exercise and remarked on the fire and rescue team for prioritising the East Africa Community in their tour of work organisations.

The Fire and Rescue Force Team Leader, Corporal Musa Gati, led the training with an in-depth presentation on the types of fire, the causes and the ways to combat the damage caused by fire to avoid huge losses of property.

Corporal Gati and his team also sensitised the participants on the emergency hotlines to use in case of any fire incidents and the need to put your own and other people’s safety first when countering fire incidents.

The training concluded with a practical session where fire was ignited and smothered using different forms, namely: dry powder, carbon dioxide, foam and water to show the effectiveness and intensity of each.

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Author: DAILY NEWS Reporter in Arusha

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