The Star (Nairobi)

5 November 2012

Kenya: Production of Grain Falls Short in Nile Basin

Maize plantation:

Production of cereals continue to fall short of consumer demands within the Nile Basin countries according to a study on cross-border trade launched last week.

The most affected is maize production, whose shortfall is attributed to low application of fertilizers, low quality seed and lack of proper husbandry practices, according to the CBT-Corridor Commodity Chain Analysis for grains and pulses launched in Lweza, Uganda.

"The study on the CBT analysis revealed that despite efforts made to ensure food security in the region, cereals production and maize supply in particular continues to fall short of consumer demands thus necessitating imports," a statement accompanying the study said.

John Mburu University of Nairobi principal investigator in the department of agricultural economics said Egypt is by far still the largest producer and consumer of rice in the Nile Basin region with other major producers being Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.

"The key production constraints are poor market infrastructure, lack of post harvest handling and storage facilities, and expensive fertilizers and other inputs. The trade constraints, including tariff and non-tariff barriers, are high tax rates (different countries with different taxes), official corruption and many road blocks and lack of market information and standard units of measurement of bags," Mburu said.

"Other constraints include frequent government bans and lengthy process in obtaining trade permits (particularly in Tanzania), differences in axle load limit requirements, multiple and independent regulating institutions, harassment by policemen especially when they are not bribed, and high costs of transport," he added.

The study was undertaken by the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program and Regional Agricultural Trade and Productivity project to analyse agricultural productivity and cross border trade among the Nile Basin region.

According to East Africa Grain Council's executive director Gerald Masila there was need to recognise the fact that there is commitment by all players to exploit the resources of the region for the mutual good of all the people.

"It is a well known fact that the region is still to a very great extent agricultural based and hence improving agricultural markets has a direct relationship to improved economic welfare of the masses," Masila said.

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