Iringa small scale farmers have asked the government and the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat to eliminate both the traditional and new challenges related to non-tariff barriers (NTBs), impact of climate change and low participation of farmers in the EAC agritrade policy making process.
At a recent event held to review the region's agri-trade and business regime, the stakeholders found that majority of small farmers weren't aware of the requirements for undertaking agri-trade and business within the EAC and other regional economic blocs.
The deliberations which were based on experiences of Iringa small-scale farmers pointed out challenges associated with systems which include lack of capacity on the part of small scale farmers to negotiate favorable terms.
As a result, the Iringa Civil Society Organization (ICISO) supported by the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) under the EAC CSO integration project in collaboration with Trademark East Africa (TMEA) is working to establish how the small-scale farmers could effectively engage in, and benefit from, the region's agri-trade and business regime.
A statement issued by the ICISO Executive Secretary, Mr. Raphael Mtitu noted that Iringa SSFs were failing to effectively engage and benefit from the EAC regional development cooperation and integration due to lack of information and facilitation on how to undertake trade and access markets within the bloc.
"The EAC and Tanzanian government should immediately put in place quick wins windows that enable tangible actions like easy cross-border trade with no tariff and non-tariff barriers, improved transportation and business across EAC Partners State which will enable eased SSFs engagement in the EAC agri-trade and business regime," the statement reads, in part.
The foundation is also calling on the EAC and the Tanzanian government to honour the 2014 Malabo deal, and set up mechanism under which small farmers of Iringa could benefit from the regional plan on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programmes (CAADP).
This demands enhanced investment in agriculture, specifically targeting small scale farmers, halving the regional and national poverty level by 2025 through inclusive agricultural growth and transforming and ensuring that the SSFs themselves participate in plans to boost intra-EAC trade in agricultural commodities and services.