Arusha — Small scale farmers in East Africa are set to petition the heads of state for increased funding to the agricultural sector.
Increased financing will not only ensure food security but reduce poverty, they insisted during their visit to the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) on Tuesday.
"EAC region is doing quite well but has fallen short on budgetary allocation in the agricultural sector to reach 10 per cent target," said Mr Alfayo Kurunah, a member of the farmers' lobby.
The 10 per cent public spending on agriculture was made by the African Union (AU) leaders during their annual summit in Maputo in 2003.
It was galvanised under the Malabo Declaration in another continental summit held in Equatorial Guinea in 2014.
The farmers under the aegis of the East and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (Esaff) visited Eala and held talks with the Speaker and other officials.
Mr Kurunah, a farmer from Kenya and board member for the body, said they would press for a high level regional meeting to deliberate on agricultural development.
The meeting, slated for November or December,will assess progress made in the implementation of the Malabo Declaration.
The declaration aims to accelerated agricultural growth and transformation that would in Africa.
It calls for commitment to ending hunger in the continent by 2025, doubling productivity while focusing on inputs, irrigation and mechanisation. The declaration further anticipates commitment towards enhancing resilience in livelihoods and production systems to boosting intra-African trade in agricultural commodities.
Further envisaged is a commitment to halve poverty as well as strengthen inclusive public private partnerships (PPP) on agricultural commodity value chains.
One of the goals is creation of job opportunities for at least 30 per cent of the youth in agricultural value chains.
Eala Speaker Martin Ngoga assured Esaff officials that the Assembly's support towards initiatives that leverage agriculture to ensure food security and raise the region's GDP.
"Time is ripe for the establishment of an institution dealing specifically with matters of agriculture and food security," he told the visiting delegation.
Esaff was established in 2002 during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa by small scale farmers operating in the region and aimed to empower them.