MPs challenge ESAFF to utilise Common Market Protocol
Nairobi: ESAFF needs to utilise the Common Market Protocol (Article 45) since it talks about cooperation in the agricultural sector, to bring about more cross border trade in the region. The challenge was thrown to ESAFF in Nairobi when ESAFF leaders held a roundtable meeting with EALA members drawn from the committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources (ATNR).
Hon. Jacqueline Muhongayire (Rwanda) declared that the proposed CAADP budgetary allocation of 10% is not enough without regular monitoring and evaluation of agricultural programs to determine the absorption capacity of this allocation.
On his part Hon. Manasse Nzobonimpa (Burundi) urged ESAFF to continue fighting the various problems and taking them to national leaders in their respective partner states.
Hon. Patricia Hajabagika (Rwanda) told the meeting that ESAFF has initiated a noble course on the aspect of land use management in terms of promoting organic matter and by raising soil biotic activity. She urged ESAFF to sensitise their members to ensure that land is registered under their respective authorities in order to protect it from investors and land grabbers.
ATNR chairperson Hon. Safina Kwekwe urged ESAFF to look out for new markets outside the region and add value to their produce in order to remain competitive, pointing out that farmers in the region need to secure the rights of indigenous seeds using Intellectual Property Rights.
Deliberations from the floor focused considerably on the stand of EALA on issues of land grabbing in the region, where EALA committee members directed ESAFF members to carry out national sensitization on its members to register their land and guard against it grabbers since the land issues was not an EAC issue but on partner states mandate.
The stand of EALA on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) was also raised, where the EALA committee urged ESAFF to preserve their indigenous seeds. Discussions around land and GMO issues in the EAC arose following a question from a MVIWATA farmer leader, Ms. Sophia Sophu who wanted to know the position of EALA on both issues.
In concluding remarks, Hakim Baliraine of ESAFF Uganda assured EALA MPs that ESAFF would continue to work together by strengthening their relationship and ensure there is a sustainable way of interacting in order to lobby for fair regional policies on agriculture to favour the small scale farmers. ESAFF would aim to reap from the benefits ensued in the Common Market Protocol and take up the recommendations forwarded by the EALA ATNR committee, he further stated.
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