East Africa: EAC Countries Tipped On Building Farmers' Resilience to Disasters

Left: Farmers in a maize file. Right: Oil barrels

An agricultural budget summit which brought together by farmers' representatives, civil societies and members of East African Legislative assembly (EALA) has urged regional countries to allocate enough resources to disaster preparedness programs.

It was one of the resolutions that came out of the 3rd EAC Agriculture People's Budget Summit and presented to East African Legislative assembly (EALA) in Nairobi Kenya last week. The summit was held under the theme "Promoting an Inclusive, People Centred EAC Budget Process: Incentives for Prudent Public and Private Investment in Agriculture".

The programs which were suggested to help farmers become resilient to disasters include strengthening early warning systems and climate adaptation projects.

Agnes Kirabo, an official of Food Rights Alliance in Uganda, who spoke on behalf of civil societies and farmers, urged EALA members to ensure enough allocation of resources to disasters preparedness policy, strategies and early warning response.

Figures show that in Rwanda over 200 people have lost their lives in the recent rains while crops worth Rwf4 Billion were destroyed.

Enhancing resilience to climate variability is one of the seven commitments set up by African Union Heads of states and governments under the Malabo commitments in Equatorial Guinea in 2014 so as to ensure agricultural productivity is increased in Africa.

The commitments include recommitment to broad targets of 6 percent annual growth in agricultural GDP and allocation of at least 10 percent of public expenditures to the agricultural sector, halving poverty through agriculture by 2025, boosting intra-African trade in agriculture commodities, enhancing mutual accountability for actions and results, enhancing investment finance in agriculture, ending hunger by 2025; and enhancing resilience to climate variability.

However an assessment report presented during the summit showed that in terms of implementation, some EAC countries are not on track.

"We recommend that member states pay attention to three commitments namely enhancing investment finance in agriculture, ending hunger by 2025, and enhancing resilience to climate variability where they were found not to be on track in terms of implementation."

Low financing to Agriculture sector

The summit also observed that over the last five years, the budget allocation to agriculture has not exceeded seven per cent of the total national budget compared to the recommended 10 per cent allocation.

The analysis, for instance, shows that in Uganda, budget allocated to agriculture is likely to decrease from 3.9 per cent in 2017/18 to 2.9 per cent of total budget in 2018/19.

In Burundi, it shows that 81 per cent of the budget allocated to agriculture comes from external financing.

In Tanzania, the budget to agriculture might fall from 5.5 per cent to 4.8 per cent of total budget according to the analysis.

"There is need of improving quantity and quality of agriculture finance. EAC should also expedite adoption of agriculture investment plan to ensure self-feeding and export promotion and support domestication of Malabo commitments," Kirabo added.

EALA MPs said there is need to assess why limited finance by both government and private sector such as banks to the farmers as well as consulting states on how inputs can be available and affordable.

"We have to act based on empirical evidence in which civil societies help to get. In terms of financing agriculture sector, private sector which plays a pivotal role should be brought on board so that production is increased. It also helps to get market to the produce," said Hon. Deng Gai, a member of the Agriculture, tourism and natural resources committee.

Mathias Kasamba, the chairperson of the committee reiterated that there was need to enhance support to small holder farmers since most of the food is produced by them.

"We have to wonder when they shall grow and embrace intensive food production for us and how much it costs to support them. They need support so that Africa feeds itself," he noted.

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