Agricultural Inputs System Development
One of the factors contributing to low agricultural production and productivity in the EAC is inadequate access to appropriate technologies and farm inputs. EAC is implementing the Agricultural Inputs System Development Programme, aims at facilitating harmonization of agricultural inputs policies and regulations, including seeds, fertilizers and pesticides to enhance agricultural productivity, food and nutrition security and intra-regional trade.
EAC Seed Harmonization Initiative
Seed is a critical input for agriculture and is a key pathway to delivering agricultural innovations to farmers. The seed industry is crucial for realizing agricultural transformation and competitiveness in the EAC region.
The inherent weaknesses in seed delivery pathways limit farmers’ access to improved varieties and seeds thus limiting the impact of increasing agricultural productivity. Addressing seed system constraints at national and regional levels is expected to improve the delivery of improved varieties and seeds thereby contributing to improving agricultural productivity, ensuring food security and improving the livelihoods of the rural poor.
The EAC seed harmonization initiative has been supported by both USAID and AGRA. The goal is to improve regional availability of seeds and planting materials through creation of an enabling and facilitative environment. The envisaged benefits from harmonization and enforcement of appropriate legislative and regulatory framework on seed is enhanced accessibility to quality seeds, facilitation of inter and intra-regional trade, and enabling expansion of market opportunities for seed traders, reduced transaction costs and contribution towards agricultural productivity in the EAC Partner States.
The EAC Seed and Plant Varieties Bill was adopted by SCAFs in December 2018 and has already been cleared the Sectoral Council on Legal and Judicial Affairs. Next steps will entail approval by the Council and enactment into law by the East African Legislative Assembly. The scope of the Bill applies to coordination, release and registration of plant varieties between Partner States; common processes for seed certification and protection of plant varieties within the Community and other related matters. Robust administrative arrangements have been spelt out to ensure enhanced coordination and cooperation among Partner States.
The Bill makes provision for the Council of Ministers to establish a seed and plant variety evaluation committee, designation of national seed authorities and national plant variety committees. Other key areas that will be addressed include establishment of national and Community plant variety catalogues, seed certification, testing and marketing based on common understanding and application of harmonized procedures within the Community
Fertilizer Policy and Bill
With support from AGRA, the EAC Fertilizer Policy and Bill have been drafted and subjected to national and regional validation in 2020. The two instruments will contribute towards creating an enabling environment for local production, regulation and intra-regional trade in fertilizers.
Proposed provisions include mutual recognition of fertilizers already registered in other EAC Partner States. Fertilizers on the EAC regional list will be given preferential treatment during the registration process if they have already been tested in similar agro-ecological conditions in other Partner States.
A common decision-making approach will also be adopted with respect to blended fertilizers available for trade from one country to other EAC Partner States.
EAC Harmonized Pesticides Management Guidelines
The EAC, with support from FAO, USAID, USDA, AGRA, AATF, and Crop Life Africa and Middle East has harmonized guidelines for testing and registration of conventional pesticides and biopesticides.
The guidelines have reduced the time taken to test and register crop pest control products from 3 seasons to 2 seasons. Pilot trials for products that can be used to control the Fall Army Worm (which causes heavy losses in maize) has been going on in the Partner States and so far about 5 products have been recommended for registration.
The EAC harmonized system will contribute towards ensuring that farmers have access to quality, safe and affordable pesticides. Harmonized Pesticides Management Guideliens are accessible here.