There is need for the East African Community (EAC) to shape the agricultural policies in the Partner States and foster regional trade by reducing trade barriers to ensure food security.
This is according to key results of the food and agricultural policy analysis from three countries: Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, an initiative of the Monitoring African Food and Agricultural Policies (MAFAP) and supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
According to the reports on reviewing food and agricultural policies during 2005-2011, producers of food commodities in the three countries have received incentives in the recent years. In Uganda, however, current policies and weak market performance make food more expensive for consumers, while reducing prices for producers of exported commodities.
In Kenya, despite policy efforts and substantial investments in infrastructure, market inefficiencies still limit price incentives for agricultural producers in the country. Producers’ incentives for all products regardless of their trade status are reduced by market inefficiencies stemming from taxes and fees, or due to the absence of policies, lack of infrastructure, rigidities and information asymmetry.
The Tanzanian report identifies the abandonment of export bans, the move towards eliminating district taxation for agricultural products among others as some of the measures that can reduce the level of disincentives for farmers.
It is important to create a body of regional experts in policy monitoring and analysis who can provide an evidence-based advice to the governments and policy makers in the region. “Not only do the coherence of government objectives and its policies at the national level matter but also the coherence of the regional objectives and national policies of member states,” underlined Ms. Maria Rizzo, FAO Sub regional for Eastern Africa (SFE). Delegates from EAC Partner States participated in the regional workshop.
“FAO is very pleased to be working with national partners in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, led by their relevant line ministries, to strengthen the evidence base for food and agriculture policies by developing and implementing a systematic monitoring system that is updated regularly” added Ms. Maria Rizzo.
The Monitoring African Food and Agricultural Policies (MAFAP) project, which reviews the main developments of the economy and the agricultural sector as well as the main policy decisions affecting this sector, is sharing its findings from the three countries today to a wide audience of stakeholders.
The project analyzes price incentives and disincentives faced by farmers and consumers for ten agricultural commodities, which cover a significant share of agricultural production, imports, exports and diet. It also provides a detailed analysis of the composition and level of public expenditure in support of agriculture and rural development. The former analysis was made for the period 2005-2010, while the latter covers 2006 to 2011.
MAFAP project aims at helping African policy-makers and other stakeholders ensure that policies and investments fully support agricultural development, the sustainable use of natural resources and enhanced food security. MAFAP supports decision-making at national, regional and pan-African levels, and thereby contributes to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) of the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD). The project which is implemented in ten African countries analyzes price incentives for producers of key commodities and measures the real impact of public spending to support agriculture.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Timothy Wesonga, EAC Secretariat, on behalf the Deputy Secretary General Productive and Social Sectors, Hon. Jesca Eriyo said that East Africa was moving towards policy coherence, but there are still important constraints to be addressed. “Agricultural sector policies have been gradually adapting to the country’s general policy and political changes towards market liberalization, privatization and commercialization of the agricultural sector,” he underscored.
It is necessary to create a body of regional experts in policy monitoring and analysis who can provide an evidence-based advice to the governments and policy makers in the East African region. In addition, promoting policy advocacy for the implementation of strategies to improve incentives to agricultural producers is prudent across participating countries in order to promote regional trade for food security and economic growth.