Amidst pertinent global climate challenges, there is a need to urgently devise ways to ensure food security in the region, the East African Business Council observes. This was highlighted during a webinar of high-level policy decision-makers and 60 agri-value chain actors convened, on May 16, to validate a study on the impact of global crises on food security in the East African Community (EAC). ALSO READ: Calls grow for govt to do more on food security MP Francoise Uwumukiza, Chairperson of the East African Legislative Assembly’s Committee on Agriculture, Tourism, and Natural Resources, emphasized the need to establish a gender-sensitive food response plan in the region. “Food security is paramount for inclusive economic growth in the region. EALA is committed to playing its legislative, oversight, and representation roles in collaboration with other partners to end hunger,” she said. Uwumukiza called for quick implementation of agricultural policies, eliminating Non-Tariff Barriers, and tackling inflation for improved food security in the region. ALSO READ: Agriculture budget shrinks, raising concerns over food security According to the study, all regional countries experience some form of climatic challenge, however, the severity of the challenges does not cut across the whole region, creating opportunities for food production and trade in the region. The disruptions in the food supply chain caused by the Russia-Ukraine war had a significant effect on the EAC's food security, leading to increased food inflation. East African Community partner states are net food importers with staple food products mainly cereals, such as maize, rice, and sorghum, which have a high import dependency ratio. “The global crises, such as Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine, have led to volatile global and regional food prices, which have impacted food security. On the positive side, the EAC countries have shown quick adaptability to the pandemic, with some countries improving their Global Food Security Index (GFSI) scores,” said John Bosco Kalisa, CEO of EABC. The study shows that, prior to the pandemic, only Kenya had a score above average in GFSI, followed closely by Rwanda and Uganda. However, there was a consistent improvement in Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania's scores from 2021 to 2022, indicating quick adaptability to the pandemic. ALSO READ: FAO boss on Rwanda’s journey to achieving food security It recommends that EAC should increase investments in local food production, diversify food crops, improve intra-industry trade of cereals, food preparations, and animal dairy products, and improve food value chains to reduce food waste. Kalisa said that there is a project to enhance the competitiveness of the agri-food industry and mitigate the impact of global crises to improve food security in the region. Under this project, EABC will conduct training on agricultural topics ranging from sustainable supply chains, smart agriculture, contract farming, and export procedures to empower agriculture value chain actors, including women, youth, farmers, and SMEs.