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Spotlight on Smallholder Farmers in East Africa Legislative Assembly

Domesticating African continental framework for agriculture – Malabo Declaration- at regional and national levels, is paramount for agriculture renaissance to kick off.

It is in that understanding  that East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) wants domesticating the regional framework to be done in a way that recognises the rights and roles of majority small crop growers, fisher folk and livestock keepers as well as medium and large scale farmers.

This came to light at an EALA sitting in Zanzibar. Hon Mr. Mike Sebalu (Uganda) had moved a motion for a resolution to urge the East African Partner States to fast-track domestication of the Malabo Declarations and its commitments.Hon Mike Sebalu In his presentation Hon Sebalu underscored the great importance of domesticating the regional framework to transform agricultural sector while recognising the rights and roles of majority small scale farmers.

The motion was approved and in essence EALA resolved to domesticate the Malabo Declaration by putting in place regional legally binding protocols and financial instruments which are responsive to the needs of small holder farmers, the youth and women to ensure regional realisation of its goals.

The resolve included 16 action points, among them institutionalising an annual dialogue framework between farmers, non-state actors, member states CADP focal points persons, agriculture parliamentary committee chairpersons and EALA Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources through an annual conference.

The motion agreed to request EAC Partner States to draft, renew and amend regulations, standards and policy frameworks addressing agriculture, land, water, environment, infrastructure, energy policies, budgets and development programmes which are compliant to the Malabo declaration.

It also renewed call to  EAC Partner States to allocate budgets to agriculture that reach the Malabo Declaration target of at least 10 %t annually (at least progressively) and use bottom up approach in programming and budgeting so as to ensure small holder farmers needs are catered for as they are the main food producers.

Another resolve called on the national level parliamentary agriculture committees and local councils to institute collaboration and dialogue framework with small farmers, non-state actors so as to review implementation and performance of the agricultural sector and in particular the Malabo commitments.

Another resolve wascarrying out sensitisation programmes to reach out to policy makers including ministers responsible for agriculture to ensure that the EAC Food Security Action Plan 2011-2015 and the EAC Climate Change policy have been properly implemented as directed by the 9th EAC heads of state Summit as well as the proper implementation of the Malabo commitment by Partner States.

Another resolution urged EAC to prioritise harmonisation of national laws, policies and strategies on agriculture and food security to ease urgent implementation of Malabo commitments.

EAC Secretariat was requested to institutionalise the regional agricultural advisory council to advise on the harmonisation of regional agriculture policy frameworks and programmes. The Council could comprise of EAC/EALA Secretariat and member states representatives, academia, regional farm organisations and civil society as well as consumers; so stated the resolution.