CUTS International, a research-based NGO working on trade, agriculture, competition and other development-related issues organized February 23, a two-day meeting to launch its new project entitled “Promoting Agriculture-Climate-Trade Linkages in the EAC” PACT-EAC. The meeting was attended by about 50 representatives of international and regional organizationssuch as FAO and the EAC as well as of governments, CSOs, private sector, think tanks and media from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
The project also encompasses the concept of food security-enhancing agro-processing as a key aspect for growth and development.
Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) International and its partners launched the ‘Promoting Agriculture, Climate and Trade Linkages in the EAC’ (PACT EAC2)’ last week in Dar es Salaam.
Its implementation will be financially supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
In her keynote address at the launch of PACT EAC2 in Dar es Salaam last week, the Ugandan Minister of State for Environment Flavia Munaaba said : “East African governments, alongside nearly 200 other governments, took a symbolic step in December last year in Paris.
“It is now in our hands to implement this historic universal agreement and our Intended Nationally Determined Contributions towards processes that are owned by our citizens and that are conscious of linkages between climate change, agriculture, food security and trade.”
Director of Environment, Dr Julius Ningu, cautioned on the vagaries of nature.
“The last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that in the next decades, countries in East Africa may lose over 20 per cent of their production capacity due to the ever-increasing climate vagaries,” Dr Ningu said.
A representative from the EAC Secretariat, Moses Marwa, conveyed the support of the regional organization to the success of the project and emphasised the relevance of the project for the regional agenda.
“Agro-processing and agri-business is one of the priority sectors targeted by the EAC in the short term. Agro-processing and agri business sector is one of the prioritised sectors in which policy efforts will be directed to increase investment so as to improve competitiveness and value addition opportunities,” he said.
However, Julien Grollier, Programme Officer at CUTS International, Geneva, said that the project will bring together, inform, train and move to advocacy action hundreds of stakeholders from the government, businesses, civil society, media, academia and farming communities.
He also said that soon, teams of national experts engaged by the project will analyse the interplay of agro-processing with climate change, trade and food security in each EAC bloc.
He pointed out that findings of their research studies will later inform sensitization, training and advocacy activities towards developing lasting policy solutions for climate-awareness, trade-driven, food security-enhancing agro-processing development.
“The still infant agro-processing industry in East Africa has been earmarked in the EAC Industrialisation Policy as having huge potential for poverty reduction, growth and regional integration.
But, the region’s success in realising this potential will partly depend on its ability to factor into the ever-increasing challenges posed by climate change, and work in synergy with its own trade agenda,” he said.
He added: “In an ideal scenario, trade policies should ensure the availability of inputs despite climate change, markets for the processed products and access to cleaner technologies; while climate change policies support this effort through targeted adaptation and mitigation initiatives.”
According to him, the role of international trade and climate negotiations in framing the policy space for such policies should not be overlooked. To this effect, he explained, the project has established two regular forums for trade (WTO) and climate (UNFCCC) negotiators respectively.
Besides the on-demand availability of CUTS’ technical expertise, negotiators will benefit from country updates whereby people on the field will provide them with a snapshot of the current ground realities.