Invest more in agriculture to up food security, EAC member states told

S Agriculture Mithika Linturi during a consultative meeting held with MPs from the sugar belt region on improving competitiveness of the state owned mills at KARLO headquaters Nairobi. May 4,2023. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

East African countries have been urged to invest more in the agricultural sector to achieve food security and beat climate change.

Agriculture ministers from the East Africa Community made the resolutions during the 16th meeting of the Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security (SCAFS) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this week.

Among top resolutions made during the four-day summit include; partner states to put in place measures to reduce cost of food, implementation of targeted multi-sectoral programmes to reduce high levels of malnutrition, especially among children and lactating mothers.

The council acknowledged the region suffered a setback in its quest to achieve food security due to extreme weather events and natural disasters in recent years which compounded the situation.

EAC boss Anthony Kafumbe said food security plans in the region were disrupted by widespread death of livestock due to prolonged drought particularly in the arid and semi-arid areas, the on-going Russia-Ukraine war which disrupted both global and regional food and inputs supply chains, widespread flush floods and landslides, which caused tremendous damage to property and loss of lives.  

The council has now recommended building and supporting resilient food systems to ensure availability of food and support livelihoods especially the vulnerable communities in the region.

“The region is still vulnerable to food insecurity owing to lack of mechanisation, poor access to quality farm inputs particularly fertiliser, drugs and pesticides and limited access to agricultural advisory services,” said Dr Kafumbe.

Kenya was represented by Agriculture and Livestock Development Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi, his East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and Regional Development counterpart Rebecca Miano, Crops Principal Secretary Kello Harsama and his EAC counterpart Abdi Dubat, among others.

Mr Linturi hailed the council’s resolutions and he promised that his ministry is determined to implement all the recommendations by the Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security.

“The council meeting is productive because it helps member states of the EAC to share information and strategies on food security which is crucial in the implementation of plans to make the region food secure by 2025,” he said.

The council meeting was also attended by ministers from Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. 

Kenya’s High Commissioner to the United Republic of Tanzania Isaac Njenga was also in attendance.

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