Kampala — It is only Kenya among the five partner states of the East African Community (EAC) that is at an advanced stage of constructing a fertilizer production plant.
The plant will have a capacity of producing 350,000 metric tons of fertilizer from the year 2013, and will be completed in the year 2015 at a cost of KShs27bn (approximately $321m).
"But on a larger scale EAC partner states are net importers of fertilizers which is a disadvantage to the implementation of the regional food security action plan, the region is currently a net importer of fertilizer with only 190,000 metric tons being manufactured and or blended in the region," said the EAC chairperson of the Council of Ministers Shem Bageine.
He told the members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) that from available data, the region imported about 750,00 metric tonnes of fertilizer in 2009/10 worth over $550 million.
Bageine however added that a proposal for a feasibility study on regional fertilizer production has been developed and submitted to the African Development Bank (AfDB) for consideration.
"Discussions are still underway with AfDB under the African Fertilizer Financing Mechanism framework, therefore as a region we have not yet determined how much each Partner State is required to commit to the regional fertilizer production initiatives," he said.
EALA member, Christophe Bazivamo said that Article 105 of the EAC Treaty specifically under Chapter 18 compels the EAC Partner States to cooperate in the agricultural sector to achieve food security and rational agricultural production within the Community.
" In line with this, the EAC Food Security Action Plan (2011- 2015) provides a roadmap for the implementation of joint programs and projects, including support construction of a regional fertilizer processing plant and the mobilization of resources for the implementation of the plan," he said in Arusha recently.
Bageine stressed that at an EAC Summit in Kigali in 2008, Rwanda concluded that one of the immediate interventions to boost agricultural productivity in the region was to exploit available resources like natural gas and phosphates for production of fertilizers.
"The Summit also decided that joint financing of a fertilizer manufacturing plant in Tanzania and Uganda should be undertaken as a priority EAC regional project under the framework of the Agricultural and Food Security Program," Bageine said.
He further said under this plan, priority activities, projects were being done at different stages including development of a regional food balance sheet framework, agricultural development fund, East African agri-enterprises and Agro-industries development program.