Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - A body of farmers in the East African Community (EAC) partner states has formally asked the bloc to develop a regional cooperative policy and enact legislation that would strategically promote the interests of cooperative societies.
Senior officials of the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) have presented the proposal to the EAC secretariat in Arusha, Tanzania, saying the body had already developed a draft model cooperative policy document that highlights critical factors for consideration in order promote cooperative societies in the region.
‘The Federation believes that cooperative societies have the potential to spur economic development by increasing farmer incomes, promoting food security and triggering community development,’ said EAFF president Philip M. Kiriro.
In March this year, EAFF held a policy workshop to review Cooperative Acts in Ug anda, Kenya and Tanzania, and compared those laws with the Ethiopian cooperative law, which is deemed to be favourable to the development of cooperative societies in Africa.
The EAFF has commended the EAC for developing a food security action plan to address the problem of food insecurity in the region, but expressed concern about land acquisitions by foreign investors.
According to the Federation officials, the trend of land acquisitions was steadily growing in Africa and the major concern about these transactions is their impact on the farming systems and environment of the commu nities where they are located.
Since EAFF member organisations (national federations, apex cooperative alliances, and apex commodity associations) were recognised as legitimate organisations that represent the interests of farmers in the five EAC partner States, the Federation has also requested the involvement of national farmersâ? Organisations in the Community consultation processes at the country level on agriculture, food security and other related sectors.
Meanwhile, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Jean Claude Nsengiyumva, has commended the work of the Federation and said the overall objectives of cooperation in the agr icultural sector were the achievement of food security and rational agricultural production within the Community.
In this context, he explained that the partner States adopted a scheme for the rationalisation of agricultural production, with a view to promoting complementarity and specialisation in and the sustainability of nation al agricultural programmes, in order to ensure a common agricultural policy and food sufficiency within the EAC.
He said the EAC member countries â’ Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi -- agreed to provide an enabling environment for the private sector and the civil society to take full advantage of the Community.
For that reason, Nsengiyumva explained that the five countries had formulated a strategy for the development of the private sector and to promote a continuous dialogue with the private sector and civil society with the aim of creating an improved business environment in all economic sectors.
The EAFF was granted observer status in the EAC in March 2010.