Agro-processing should more climate sensitive, trade driven and food security enhancing, East African governments have been counseled.
In a presentation at a Promoting Agriculture, Climate and Trade Linkages in the East African Community meeting in Dar es Salaam last weekend, PACT EAC2 Official Daniel Asher said that because the majority of East Africans are smallholder farmers, agro-processing should be given priority.
Asher pointed out that East African farmers are vulnerable to climate change and often unable to leverage the trade opportunities that could help them cope with food security.
He pointed out that part of the solution should be provided by governments through coherent policy formulation cutting across trade, climate change and food security.
“PACT EAC1 had started contributing to this and influenced the revision of several policies. PACT EAC2 takes these efforts to the next level, by focusing on value addition and agro-processing development in the region,” he said.
He added: “EAC Agro-processing is still infant, but earmarked as having huge potential for poverty reduction. Women and marginalized smallholder farmers, stand to benefit most from coherent development of agro-processing by creating new opportunities”.
He underscored that the role of international trade and climate negotiations in framing policies should not be overlooked.
In her welcoming remarks by the Executive Director for Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF), Dr. Tausi Kida said the meeting was an important gathering to give an input in agro-processing policy review.
“Agro-processing, climate change, food security and trade are important aspects in agriculture. How can agro-processing become more climate-aware, trade-driven and food security enhancing?” And lastly received updates on the current status of trade (WTO) and climate (UNFCCC) negotiations,” Dr Kida noted.
She further pointed out that over the past four years, the Promoting Agriculture, Climate and Trade Linkages in the EAC (PACT EAC) project brought together, informed, trained and moved to advocacy hundreds of East Africans who successfully influenced a number of policy changes.
The ESRF chief noted that until 2019, the present second phase will take efforts to the next level, by focusing on how agro-processing can become more climate-aware, trade-driven and food security enhancing.
“The still infant agro-processing industry in East Africa has been earmarked as having huge potential for poverty reduction, growth and regional integration. The region’s success in realizing this potential will partly depend on its ability to factor in the ever-increasing challenges posed by climate change, and work in synergy with its own trade agenda,” Dr Kida stressed.
Meanwhile, the meeting follows the recent launch of the second phase of the Promoting Agriculture, Climate and Trade Linkages in East Africa Community (PACT EAC2) that was jointly organized by CUTS International Geneva, CUTS Nairobi and ESRF in February2016.