climate-aware, trade-driven, food security-enhancing
agro-processing for East Africa

East Africa: Five Countries, Five Policy Pathways to Sustainable Agro-Processing

At these five national meeting in East Africa, participants considered the way forward in ensuring that key agro-industrial policies promote climate-aware, trade-driven and food security-enhancing agro-processing. They will discussed the early findings of research studies in this regard, and continued engaging policy-makers through advocacy. Participants were also briefed on the status of agriculture in multilateral trade and climate negotiations, and their implications on the ground.

March 02, 2018 | East African Community (EAC)

Agro-processing development has been earmarked as a key regional priority in East Africa. But with the multi-pronged challenges facing the region, how can this process be at the same time climate-aware, trade-driven and food security enhancing? Across the region, five National Reference Groups (NRGs) are engaging policy-makers in advocacy towards strengthening relevant agro-industrial prolicies, including: (i) Buy Kenya, Build Kenya Strategy; (ii) Implementation strategy for agro-industry in Burundi; (iii) Launch of a National Agro-processing Forum in Rwanda; (iv) Revision of the Tanzanian Sustainable Industries Development Plan; and (v) National Industrial Development Policy in Uganda.


As the new National Industrialisation Policy (NIP) is pending adoption until the National Economic Development Plan (NEDP) is finalised, ADIR is teaming up with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism to build its capacity to develop a sound implementation strategy for agro-processing when time comes. According to Aimable Nkunzumwami, Assistant to the Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, "the project's ambitious advocacy work towards an implementation strategy for agro-industry has made ADIR and CUTS priviledged partners for the Ministry."

Indeed, ADIR’s advocacy campaign encouraged the Ministry to request a UNIDO training on industrial strategy-making, which was successfully delivered in September 2017. More importantly, a study under the campaign is currently developing elements of an implementation strategy for selected climate, trade and food security aspects of the draft policy, including: (i) sustainable land and water management; (ii) climate adaptation of agro-industrial infrastructure; (iii) compliance with standards; (iv) export diversification; and (v) rules of origin. At the meeting, proposed elements were discussed with the Ministry and other stakeholders towards finalising the study.


The Buy Kenya, Build Kenya Strategy (BKBK), which aims to increase competitiveness and consumption of locally produced goods and services, now integrates elements of trade, climate and food security to varying degrees. Trade features prominently, as BKBK is anchored within the overall framework of the National Trade Policy and is overseen by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. It also identifies both key opportunities and threats posed by existing multilateral and regional trade agreements on Kenya's industrial growth.

Yet, although acknowledging that BKBK could be challenged under these agreements, the strategy unfortunately shows little concern for its potential negative effects on regional integration efforts, arguing that other neighbours have adopted similar ones. Nevertheless, it adopts EAC's 35% rule for qualifying as local content.

Besides this, the strategy recognises the need for synergies with the Agricultural Policy where food security is a key objective, provides for better corporate reporting on environmental performance, and considers Kenya's climatic conditions as favourable to quality agriculture production. However, potential negative impacts of climate change are not included. Discussions with the Ministry during the meeting were an opportunity to feed such aspects into the final strategy.


The ongoing implementation of Rwanda’s industrial policy is steered by the Industrial Development and Export Council (IDEC), whose mandate includes drawing on relevant Public-Private Dialogues while designing new interventions towards industrial development. Yet, agro-processors have so far lacked a platform to bring their common voice to IDEC, which is hence not aware of some key climate, trade and food security challenges faced by agro-processors on the ground. As a solution, PACT EAC2 through ACORD is proposing and supporting the creation of a National Agro-processing Forum (NAPF), to be hosted by a standing member of IDEC; namely the Private Sector Federation (PSF).

At the meeting, Ms. Claudine Mukeshimana, Head of Private Sector Federation’s Chamber of Industry confirmed that "We undertake to launch and host the National Agro-Processing Forum to convey agro-processors’ prespectives into Rwanda's industrial policy implementation machinery". The move was supported by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, whose Acting Director-General of Industry, Telesphore Mugwiza, said that “The Ministry of Trade and Industry supports the formation of the project's proposed National Agro-Processing Forum, whereby the Private Sector Federation will be able to channel inputs from agro-processors to IDEC and efficiently impact the government’s decisions in the sector." The first meeting of the new forum is expected in the coming months.


Developed in 1996 when the effects of climate change were yet to be felt, Tanzania’s Sustainable Industrial Development Policy (SIDP) has become out of sync in view of the urgent need for synergising agro-processing development with other climate, trade and food security interventions. Due for review by 2020, PACT EAC2 through ESRF is advocating for kick-starting the review process, taking up such synergies right from the design phase. Already, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment is considering terms of reference proposed by ESRF for a baseline government study aimed to frame the review, which SADC has recently pledged to finance.

Reaffirming the Ministry’s commitment to the review, Obadia Nyagilo, Industrial Development Director, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, said that “Missing links with cross-cutting issues of climate change, food security and trade raise the need to review the SIDP. In doing so, the country will have an industrial policy that considers the climate-vulnerability of different sectors, prioritizing agro-processing industries that are affected by climate negative impacts, while addressing issues of food security and trade to ensure a holistic approach.”


The ongoing review of the National Industrial Development Policy is an opportunity to ensure agro-processing development becomes climate-aware, trade-driven and food security-enhancing. Towards this goal, SEATINI and the National Reference Group have engaged policy-makers through advocacy, collaborating with them on several activities. This included a briefing paper as well as organising and attending government consultation workshops in 2017 and 2018, which provided inputs to the draft policy.

In this context, a research study presented for comments emphasised that climate and agro-processing are inextricably linked, with climate change affecting agriculture yields both in quality and quantity as well as leading to increased costs of production and unsustainable livelihoods. While agro-processing can be instrumental in addressing post-harvest losses (33% of food is lost in poor post-harvest), it is important to recognize the competing demands between the need to achieve both food security and also sustainably supply agro-processing.


Importantly, the role of international trade and climate negotiations in framing the policy space for such policies should not be overlooked, and this is why participants were also briefed on the state of play of agriculture in these fora. Agriculture, which is the backbone of any agro-processing industry, is highly dependent on climate change and trade. Multilateral negotiations at the WTO and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) both cover agriculture-related issues, and can play an important role in framing policy space for its development.

At the WTO, agriculture is regulated by the Agreement on Agriculture which has a built in agenda for future negotiations to continue reforms in Agricultural trade and this informed the Doha mandate on trade negotiations in Agriculture. The negotiations aim to reform agricultural trade in three broad areas which include domestic support, market access and export competition. WTO talks impact farmers' lives where market distortions makes farmers in Least Developed Countries uncompetitive and keep them poor. However, positive impacts can be pursued through reforms aimed to protect farmers, such as implementing safeguard measures and intensifying participation in regular bodies like the Committee on Agriculture.

In Climate Talks, last year saw a major development with the decision to advance work in the area of agriculture whereby Parties under the “Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture” now have two years to work on "bold actions" needed in agriculture before more specific ones are agreed upon in 2020.

Ongoing Discussions

  • Burundi WTO discussion

    Feb 19, 2016 | 09:29 am

    We can discuss WTO issues here for Burundi

  • SSM Needs to be discussed

    Feb 19, 2016 | 09:21 am

    Lets discuss SSM issues

  • trade forum discussion

    Feb 19, 2016 | 04:43 am

    Let us discuss topics of MTS to support our delegates in Geneva. Best regards, Julien Grollier Programme Officer CUTS International, Geneva Tel: +41 22 7346080 Fax: +41 22 7343914 Email: Web: Skype: cuts.grc [image: CUTS-Rlogo.jpg]

  • My response

    Feb 18, 2016 | 15:06 pm

    This is my response This is my response This is my response This is my response This is my response This is my response This is my response This is my response This is my response This is my response[…]

  • test discussion

    Feb 18, 2016 | 11:38 am

    this is a test discussion body.


You want to participate? Join our discussion groups here!