East African Community (EAC) Heads of State are planning to start manufacturing fertilisers to boost soil fertility and food production in the region.
Addressing journalist shortly after the 9th EAC heads of State Summit in Kigali, Ambassador, Juma Mwapachu, the Secretary General of the East African community said the Heads of State expressed serious concern about the food crisis. They discussed possibilities of setting up a fertiliser factory.
The region has phosphates in Uganda and Tanzania which are necessary for fertiliser manufacturing.
If built, the investment would help member states to cut fertilisers import costs and increase farmers’ access to them.
Rwanda alone imports fertilisers worth $20 million annually while Kenya’s fertilser import bill this year was increased from Sh4 billion to Sh12 billion.
In recent years some parts of the region have experienced declining agriculture productivity.
“Low productivity in the food sector has been exacerbated by high prices of fertilisers, pesticides and low yielding food varieties,” a joint communique issued by the Heads of State on the current global food crisis reads in part.
The cause has also been attributed to bad weather vagaries, high energy prices, and inefficient transportation system.
The Heads of State also partly blamed the problem on the heavy subsidies given to European and United States farmers. They say they undermine the incentives for African farmers to boost agriculture production.
“The main producers of food crops, mainly the small scale farmers, have not been sufficiently empowered to produce at optimal levels,” the communiqué says.
EAC member states could fully utilise their resourceful nations to realise their full potentials in agriculture.
They directed the EAC Secretariat to liaise with the Food and Agriculture Organisation, African Union as well as the NEPAD Food Security Programmes to develop a comprehensive policy response to the this food crisis and urgently recommend concrete measures to be taken with the regional and to boost agriculture production.
According to the Heads of States, there is need to seriously address the problem of low productivity of foodstuffs by effecting robust interventions in areas of policy, technology, capital and supportive infrastructure to boost agriculture development.
This comes at a time when the African Development Bank (ADB) plans to allocate $4.8 billion from 2008 to 2010 for boosting agricultural development in Africa.