Lessons learnt and Recommendations from the EAC Agricultural Symposium

Uganda's Minister of Agriculture,
Hon. Tress Bucynanyandi
speaks at the closure of the symposium
The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries in Uganda was at hand to close the three day symposium on 7 November 2013. The lessons learnt over the past fifty years, and recommendations of the symposium were drafted, agreed upon by the participants and adopted for submission to the EAC secretariat. According to the representative of the EAC Secretariat, Mr. Moses Marwa,  the recommendations will be discussed by the Sectoral Council, which will then submit them for policy decision to the Council of Ministers. Implementation however, will be the responsibility of each member state.
The recommendations were structured according to the different themes discussed during the symposium, and here are some of them in brief.
Enhanced competitiveness in production, productivity and market access

  • Develop and/or strengthen institutional frameworks both public and private, for building economies of scale and scope
  • Use the EAC common market to facilitate local manufacturing of fertilizers, machinery and other modern agricultural technologies/inputs
  • Expand strategic investment in the development of capacity and skills; and promote professionalism of all actors along the value chain
  • Utilize the EAC common market as an instrument for making the sector more effective in wealth creation
Turning agricultural knowledge into business
  • Invest in development of demand-driven, integrated technologies and management practices benchmarked on international best practices, to make agricultural enterprises more competitive
  • Develop new curricula and/or revise existing ones (at least every five years), including learning from indigenous knowledge and experiences of stakeholders
  • Reduce the risk in agricultural financing by building human capacity of financial institutions, scaling up SACCO-type financial institutions that operate within a regulatory framework, and investing in other innovative financing mechanisms
Policies and strategies to turn EAC’s comparative advantage in human capital and natural resources into competitive advantage in Global Markets
  • Build strong leadership at all levels so that the EAC and its Partner states can take full charge in the thinking, planning, implementing and funding; as well as monitoring and evaluation and accountability for agricultural policy and programmes focused at growth and competitiveness in agriculture
  • Increase the quality of analysis to drive policy formulation, planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation
  • Enhance the capacity of communities to fully understand their rights in the context of the development of the agriculture sector so as to demand accountable leadership and more effective governance systems at all levels.
  • Use the proceeds from oil and gas sector in investment and development of economic sectors such as agriculture, rather than consumptive expenditure
Enhancing business and employment for Youth in Agriculture
  • More engagement of the social and mass media avenues to drive and create the “coolness” required for creating a “pull” for youth into agriculture (what others have called ‘making agriculture sexy’)
  • Creation of a “Kilimo East African Youth Forum” to champion regional issues for Youth in Agriculture and also showcase more success stories on a more regular basis
  • Increase the involvement of youth in the running of affairs targeting them including but not limited to projects and leadership within the agriculture sector.
I believe that these recommendations are one of the many steps towards bringing poor rural farmers out of poverty, especially if they are implemented.