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Unite to tackle hunger, EAC partner states urged

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has urged partner states to unite in defeating hunger in the region.

According to Ms Francoise Uwumukiza, an EALA lawmaker who also chairs the independent, legislative arm of the Community’s Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources (ATNR) committee, it will take a unified regional economic community to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty in the region.

“It is high time we go borderless and work together if we truly endeavour to end hunger among our people,” stressed the lawmaker on Monday, at a session aimed at gauging EAC regional performance on the African Union Agriculture Malabo Declaration (2014-20250.

While pledging to work on the recommendations forwarded to them by smallholder farmers in the region, the committee chairperson called on the EAC partner states to pull up on the efforts towards the realization and achieving the Malabo goals by investing more into the agriculture sector.

Beyond the two overarching commitments to supporting the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), attention was drawn to the goals of achieving zero hunger,

halving poverty, boosting intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services, enhancing the resilience of livelihoods and production systems to climate variability and other shocks, and building mutual accountability to actions and results.

Nonetheless, the realization of the declaration remains a far-fetched idea as no country in the EAC has invested 10 per cent in agriculture sector.

Submitting smallholder farmers recommendations to ATNR and Partner States, a programs officer with the Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF) Emmanuel Justine noted EAC needs to invest more into agriculture to minimize risk brought by Climate Change, to ensure adequate nutritious food for all and bring down the number of malnourished and stunted children and poverty.

According to Mr Justine, there was a need for the EAC to operationalize the Regional Agriculture Investment Plan (EAC RAIP) and Partner States to invest more in to the agriculture sector.

“We recommend that ATNR and EALA continue budgets enhancement oversight missions to EAC Partner States towards the realization and achieving the Malabo goals by investing more into the agriculture sector,” he explained.

The ESAFF programs officer equally voiced the smallholder farmers concerns over the Draft EAC Seed and Plant Varieties Bill.

“We fear that it marginalize and criminalize farmers’ seed and seed systems, including nutritious neglected crops and plants,” he submitted.

Mr Justine further alleged that two will undermined small-scale farmers’ traditional practices to freely reuse, save, exchange and sell seed locally.

However, he cautioned that at least 43.4 million East Africans risk facing acute food insecurity, if necessary interventions aren’t taken on board.

The regional agricultural sector is dominated by smallholder mixed farming of livestock, food crops, cash crops, fishing and aquaculture. The major food crops are maize, rice, potatoes, bananas, cassava, beans, vegetables, sugar, wheat, sorghum, millet and pulses.