East African Legislative Assembly has added its voice to the push for more budgetary allocation in the agricultural sector in Partner States and to ensure legal and regulatory frameworks are responsive to the needs of the smallholder farmers, malady http://crownheights.info/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php youth, mind http://ctabuenosaires.org.ar/wp-includes/class-wp-locale.php women and other sectors.
Officials said the increase in budgetary allocations is in line with the Malabo Declaration and the Assembly says the target which is pegged at least 10 percent, cost needs to be met annually or progressively.
Agriculture is one of the East African region’s most important sectors, with about 80 percent of the population of the East African Community Partner States living in rural areas and depending on agriculture for their livelihood.
The sector accounts for about 35 percent of the GDP in Burundi, 27 percent in Kenya, 30 percent in Rwanda, 25 percent in Tanzania and 25 percent in Uganda, (2015 figures), although its contribution to these economies continues to decline.
Since agriculture employs over 80 percent of the rural population — the majority of whom are poor — development of the agriculture sector presents a great opportunity for poverty reduction in a sustainable manner.
Agriculture also contributes to foreign exchange earnings, employment and provides raw materials for agro-based industries.
The legislators are similarly urging the EAC Secretariat to institutionalise a Regional Agriculture Advisory Council to advise on the harmonization of the regional agriculture policy frameworks and programmes.
Such a Council, EALA says, could comprise of EAC/EALA Secretariat and representatives from Partner States, academia, regional Farmer Organisations and Civil Society as well as consumers.
At the same time, Partner States need to increase the quality of investments by addressing national priorities connected with farmers while addressing existing challenges.
Consequently, increase in the absorption rate in the agriculture sector with a correlation between budget allocation, agriculture returns and sectoral growth targets is absolutely necessary.
The recommendations are contained in a report arising from the Agriculture Budget Summit, 2016 held in Arusha on June 4, 2016.
The meeting, then, opened by EALA Member, Hon Chris Opoka and themed “Increasing Public investment in Agriculture towards Ending Hunger and Poverty by 2025 in the EAC” was organized to support the implementation of the Malabo Declaration of 2014-2025.
The meeting among other things, sought to increase public awareness on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Results framework and importance of public financing of agriculture that supports smallholders as catalyst for improved Private Sector investment.
It further wanted to enhance Civil Society Organizations, small scale farmers’ involvement in agriculture financing policy processes for improved public financing for agriculture at national and the East African Community level.
The report of the Meeting which was tabled in the House by Hon Patricia Hajabakiga on behalf of the ATNR Committee further takes an incisive analysis of the Partner States’ situations.
Small scale farmers
During this week’s debate in Zanzibar, Hon Maryam Ussi called on the region to support the smalls scale farmers by implementing the 10 percent budgetary increase as per the Malabo Declaration.
Hon Mike Sebalu remarked the relations between the Assembly and farmers’ organisations were very cordial and that the voice of the farmers continued to be championed by EALA. He remarked that it was time for agriculture to be prioritized and that a value system that inculcates agriculture should be embraced
Hon Shyrose Bhanji remarked that agriculture if well boosted by sufficient budgets, would ensure the youth, women and other stakeholders are catered for through employment opportunities.
“At the same time if land is well allocated, and utilised then it would go a long way in eradicating poverty. To ensure this, finances in terms of credit is to be output,” the legislator said.
The legislator challenged the small holder farmers to take advantage of the Customs Union Protocol that offers with it free taxes on local products.
Hon Mumbi Ngaru informed the House to step up efforts to reach out to stakeholders in the agricultural sector especially during its (EALA) Sensitisation activities while Hon Nancy Abisai said it was necessary to curb corruption if resources were to be made available.
The Report was also supported by Hon Taslima Twaha, Hon Chris Opoka, Hon Dr Odette Nyiramilimo, and Hon Adam Kimbisa.