Trade Plays a Critical Role in the Food Security Equation, Just Like Climate Change

Kigali, Rwanda, 17 September 2012

"Droughts and erratic rainfall has had adverse impacts on a large majority of Rwandan households", observed Honorable François Kanimba, Minister of Trade and Industry of Rwanda while inaugurating a regional conference organised by CUTS International and ACORD, Rwanda entitled, Facing the Challenge of Climate Change on Food Security through Trade, today at the Hotel Milles Collins in Kigali (Rwanda).

"Rwanda is becoming a success story of development. But challenges remain that might prevent the country from drawing tangible benefit from such development, impacts of climate change is such a challenge", he added before opening the event. Findings from five countries (EAC member states) pertaining to the linkages between trade, climate change and food security were presented in this conference.

Mrs Flavia Munaaba, Hon'ble Minister of State for Environment, Government of Uganda added her voice in raising the need for countries to strike a balance between trade and economic development on the one hand and to preserve environmental resources for the future generations, on the other.

"Trade plays a critical role in the food security equation, just like climate change does", opined Dr. Nyamajeje Calleb Weggoro, Director of Productive Sectors, EAC Secretariat. "With the on-going EAC integration that has already achieved a Common Market, it is imperative to build clear policy links between the three areas of trade, climate change and food security", he asserted.

Ramamurti Badrinath informed the audience that CUTS has been implementing a project project referred to as the PACT EAC project for nearly a year now, and the objective of this conference was to assess some of the emerging policy and practice related findings. This would enable development of a roadmap for actions at the national and regional levels, he indicated. He acknowledged the support of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA, Sweden) in supporting this important and crucial initiative.

Discussions at the various sessions underscored the fact that the relationship between trade, climate change and food security is complicated, and policies framed at the national and regional levels need to be cognizant of such complexities. This is not a simple task and makes policymaking and implementation an uphill task for relevant policymakers. The other important issue that was reverberated was lack of coordination between trade, climate change and food security policies, which often result in weak implementation of well-intentioned programmes.

Stakeholders from all sectors and all EAC countries of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda were represented in the audience and were given the opportunity to provide their own views on the suitable solutions to the problem climate-related food insecurity. Among them were representatives from the national government agencies, experts/academicians, practitioners, civil society, farmers' organisations, etc.

This conference marked the first Regional Annual Meeting of the PACT EAC project (Promoting Agriculture, Climate and Trade linkages in the East African Community) being implemented by CUTS International, Geneva in partnership with civil society organisations from Burundi (ADIR), Kenya (CUTS Nairobi), Rwanda (ACORD), Tanzania (ESRF) and Uganda (SEATINI). The project seeks to assist EAC stakeholders in better understanding and dealing with the challenges of climate change, food insecurity an defective participation in the multilateral trading system.

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