East Africa region should up agriculture allocations to improve food security

Reformed warrior Loserekou Adepang'ole works on his farm at Kolowa area in West Pokot County. The former cattle rustler noted that he gets a lot of profit in agriculture than animal theft.

While agriculture remains the main economic activity in the East African Community (EAC), public spending on the sector is low as reflected in the Budgets of individual countries. This is despite the sector contributing about a quarter of the GDP as well as employing more than 80 per cent of the regional workforce.

A report done by a regional farmers lobby, the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) recommends member states review their budgetary allocations to the sector to ensure agriculture is safeguarded and improved.

Additionally, the governments of EAC member states should implement the 10 per cent budgetary allocation for agriculture according to the 2003 Maputo Declaration and 2014 Malabo Declaration, where regional heads of state reviewed their commitment.

A detailed comparison of the agricultural sector reveals that none of the EAC states has consistently met the 10 per cent target as pledged by the heads of state more than 10 years ago. EAFF’s Chief Executive Stephen Muchiri says the federation wants to see farmers in the driving seat of regional development.

Statistically, Tanzania allocated the biggest chunk of its absolute expenditure to agriculture at seven per cent followed by Uganda at 6.5 per cent, whereas Rwanda and Kenya followed with six per cent allocation.

The report shows that Kenya presented the biggest budget in absolute terms in the region at $19.29 billion (Sh1.77 trillion), implying that it is the biggest economy in the region with priorities centered on food security.

 Irrigation projects

Notably, Sh9.5 billion ($103.54 million) has been allocated to the ongoing irrigation projects in the country such as the Galana Kulalu Scheme.

Three billion ($32.7 million) for input subsidies like fertilisers, Sh2.7 billion ($ 29.43 million) for strategic grain reserves, Sh1billion ($11 million) for fisheries development and Sh700 million for reviving the Kenya Meat Commission.

Treasury also set aside Sh3 billion ($32.7 million) for the revival of the pyrethrum industry and the same for the establishment of Free Disease Zones in the country.

In addition, Sh8.2 billion ($89.37 million) will be used for the construction of water pans and dams, Sh4.1 billion ($44.7 million for water supply and sanitation while Sh1.5 billion ($16.35 million ) will be used for the environmental conservation and management.

More than Sh500 million ($449,625) was provided for the completion of multi-purpose dams that were started under the economic stimulus programme. In Tanzania, the report shows that agriculture accounts for more than 25 per cent of the country’s GDP, provides 85 per cent of exports, and employs 80 per cent of the work force. A total of Tsh1,084.7 billion ($586,063,410) is set aside for strengthening irrigation infrastructure in the various areas, constructing warehouses and markets and providing loans to boost food security and cash crops production.

Excise duty

Excise duty on locally produced fruit juices was increased from Tsh9 per litre to Tsh10 ($0.01) per litre. In the same breath, excise duty on imported fruit juices was increased from Tsh110 ($0.06) per litre to Tsh121($0.07) per litre.

According to this report, Uganda increased its agriculture budget from Ush382.7 billion ($131.29 million) to Ush440.7 billion ($510,186,542). This however, did not factor in budgetary allocations in key agricultural productive sectors. It also terminated exemptions of interest income on agricultural loans.

This measure according to Ugandan analysts, is meant to generate Ush25.1billion ($8.61 million). The commodities included on the list of terminated exemptions are feeds for poultry and livestock, agriculture and diary machinery and packaging materials for the diary and milling industries.

Termination of exemptions on zero rated supplies include supply of cereals, grown, milled or produced in Uganda, of processed milk and milk products and supply of machinery and tools for agriculture, seeds, fertiliser, pesticides and hoes.

Rwanda allocated Rwf17.458 billion ($24.77 million) towards the economic transformation in the agriculture sector. Rural development in the agriculture sector was allocated Rwf53.323 billion ($77.066 million) while productivity and youth employment in the agricultural sector got Rwf331.957 billion (470,937).

None of the five EAC countries has set aside sufficient resources to strength the livestock sector. More attention should be directed towards reduction of pre and post-harvest losses and reduction of land degradation due to both natural and human activities.

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