Even as starvation, starvation and inflation ravage the East African region, the bloc is still reluctant to fund agriculture and has allocated less than 0.01 percent of its budget to the sector.
In the draft budget for fiscal year 2022-2023, the East African Community partner countries allocated a paltry US$6,750 (0.01 percent) to agriculture out of a total contribution of US$59.3 million.
A ministerial meeting of the 15th meeting of the Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security (SCAFS), held in Dar es Salaam on March 25, partially blamed dependency on donor funds.
Over the past five years, development partners have funded more than 90 percent of the sector’s budget.
“More than 70 percent of the industries in the region and over 65 percent of the commodities traded are agricultural-based. We urge partner countries to increase funding to the sector,” said Christophe Bazivamo, EAC Deputy Secretary General – Manufacturing and Social Sectors.
“Although the agricultural sector offers many job opportunities, the region exports between 400,000 and 700,000 jobs each year and continues to import agricultural commodities and products such as rice and wheat that can be produced in the region,” he said.
Mr. Bazivamo said the EAC strives to create an enabling environment for the development of the agricultural sector, particularly to promote an increase in agricultural production and productivity, to achieve food and nutrition security, improve the performance of agricultural value chains and agribusinesses, and improve the to promote regional and international trade of agricultural products to the processed agricultural commodities.
“I note with concern that the EAC is not doing enough to reduce post-harvest losses, which currently stand at 61 percent due to a lack of harvest conservation strategies,” Bazivamo said.
The agriculture meeting revealed that EAC partner countries have failed to increase funding for the sector over the past five years.
“EAC partner countries have yet to fulfill the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP)/Malabo commitments as reflected in the 3rd Biennial Review Report released in March,” said Dr Ministertreffen on behalf of the Agriculture Cabinet Minister Peter Munya.
The 3rd Biennial Review Report was completed in 2021 and presented to the AU General Assembly in February.
The 2014 Malabo Declaration by African leaders calls for the sector to be funded with at least 10 percent of each country’s annual budget.
For the third straight year, only Rwanda was “on track” in the region with a score of 7.43 and was ranked as the continent’s best-performing country in meeting CAADP/Malabo commitments versus a benchmark score of 7.28.
At the regional level, Tanzania came second with a score of 6.14, followed by Uganda (5.89); Burundi (5.63) and Kenya (5.62).
While other partner countries were rated as “making good progress”, South Sudan was “not on track” with a score of 2.88.
However, with an average score of 5.60, the EAC region is making “good progress” in implementing the CAADP/Malabo commitments compared to other regional economic blocs.
criticism from farmers
Kenya allocates less than 3 percent of its budget to agriculture, drawing criticism from farmers.
“Funding the agricultural sector in Kenya has been a joke all along. If we keep talking about farming being the backbone of the economy, I don’t see why we should always be reminded to feed our people,” said Kipkorir Menjo, director of the Kenya Farmers Association.
“People need to be safe, and we don’t need to be reminded of that by donors or anyone else.”
Not only does agriculture play a role in ensuring food and nutrition security, but it also supports other sectors such as manufacturing by providing raw materials.
However, the sector faces various limitations such as: B. adverse weather conditions; insect and plant diseases; slow implementation of flagship projects to support irrigation; and slow progress in promoting value creation.