Reform agriculture to check food insecurity in the region
Posted Saturday, March 23 2013 at 02:00
Comesa region which has the potential of becoming the global food basket, is importing about 93 per cent of its staple foods
Hunger looms among Common Market of East and Southern Africa (Comesa) member states as long as they keep importing food, the East African Farmer’s Federation has warned.
The East African Farmer’s Federation’s warning follows reports that the Comesa region, which has the potential of becoming the global food basket, is ironically the very one importing 93 per cent of all its staple foods
and cereals from countries endowed with less favourable agricultural conditions.
As a result, the Comesa member states are surrendering the very market that would have lifted the farmers from poverty to the producers of the imports yet this is the money which framers would keep in their pockets so as to transform agriculture.
Addressing the journalists on Thursday, Mr Philip Kiriro, the president of the East African Farmers Federation, said the federation arrived at the conclusion following concerns about the state of food security positions of the member states which were brought to the federation’s attention by Comesa and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Mr Kiriro said most members states are food insecure and if no urgent reforms are undertaken in the agricultural sector, this is likely to destabilise regional peace and security, as hunger strikes.
“All the wheat, maize and rice we eat in the region is being imported and this is costing the region about $10 billion. Farmers are faced with challenges of storage and markets but the money we are spending in importing this food is the market that the governments are depriving our farmers,” he said.
He added that the regional farmer’s organisation has come up with recommendations to the governments, the World Bank and development partners with the view of reviving co-operatives as evidenced from Ethiopia where they have managed to pull farmers out of poverty.
“What has killed cooperatives is interference by governments and politicians. This affects their governance and independence. Uganda is a net food buyer yet it signed the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture
Investment Programme which has never been implemented,” he observed. He also advises governments to mobilise farmers at all levels so that they
start reaping profits.