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Climate-Smart Agriculture

Agriculture is the backbone of most Eastern and Southern African Member States economies and plays a key role in their industrial development and trade. Agriculture accounts for more than 32 per cent of the region’s gross domestic product, employs about 80 per cent of its labour force, accounts for about 65 per cent of foreign exchange earnings and contributes more than 50 per cent of raw materials to the industrial sector.

The region faces declining agricultural yields, drought, ecosystem degradation and conflicts. These drivers of poverty undermine local communities’ ability to adapt to climate change. This is exacerbated by the fact that over 95% of agriculture in the region is rain-fed.

Climate-Smart Agriculture is agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, resilience (adaptation), reduces or removes GHGs (mitigation), and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals (FAO, 2010).

Through a Tripartite cooperation to address Climate Change, the three Regional Economic Communities (COMESA, EAC, SADC) have a project that is supporting adoption of Climate-Smart conservation Agriculture, supporting investments in national Climate-Smart Agriculture programs and addressing the linkages between Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use, and Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.

The goal is to bring significant livelihood and food security benefits to at least 1.2 million small-scale farmers through the application of well-tested, Climate-Smart Agriculture that combines crop production with agroforestry and livestock management.

The Tripartite programme’s definition of Climate-Smart Agriculture includes a range of approaches with particular emphasis on:

  1. Conservation Agriculture comprising of generally reduced tillage, maintenance of a mulch and inclusion of legumes in the rotation;
  2. Integration of trees within the farming practice (agroforestry);
  3. Improved range management in mixed farming systems including reduced uncontrolled burning and increased sequestration of carbon in the soil or vegetation; and
  4. Other approaches will be considered which have an innovative approach to increasing resilience to climate change or the sequestration of carbon within agricultural systems.

Livestock and Fisheries sub-sectors overview

The EAC Livestock and Fisheries are broken down into two main categories:

  1. Livestock:
    • Transboundary animal disease prevention and control
    • Farm animal genetic resources improvement and conservation
    • Livestock trade and marketing
    • Pastoralism development
    • Regional livestock policy development
    • Regional disease strategy and contingency plans
  2. Fish and Fisheries:
    • Fisheries governance
    • Fisheries management
    • Monitoring control and surveillance
    • Culture fisheries development
    • Fisheries trade and marketing
    • Fisheries diseases in both fresh water and marine aquatic ecosystem


Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases

One of the major hindrances to increased animal production in the EAC is the occurrence of animal disease especially transboundary animal diseases (TADs).

In the past, the region has recorded occurrences of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). Key stakeholders in disease control in the EAC region include AU-IBAR, EAFF, FAO, USAID, GIZ, ILRI, etc.

The following are the diseases identified as priority strategic and tactical transboundary animal diseases including emerging / evolving diseases in the EAC Partner States:

  • Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (AI)
  • Rift Valley Fever (RVF)
  • Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)
  • Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP)
  • Newcastle Disease
  • Trypanosomoses
  • Pestes des Petit Ruminants
  • Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia
  • Lumpy Skin Disease
  • Rabies
  • African Swine Fever
  • Tick-borne diseases (East Coast Fever, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis)
  • Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
  • Blue Tongue
  • Nairobi Sheep Disease
  • Canine Distemper
  • Gumboro


EAC Animal Disease Control Coordination Instruments

In order to harmonise and improve coordination of disease prevention and control, the EAC Steering and Technical Management Committee on Disease Control have developed following instruments:

  1. EAC Strategy on Transboundary Disease Control and Zoonosis
    • An EAC Disease Control Strategy is in place. It emphasises early detection-early response to disease situations. It also emphasises the need for one world one health approach.
    • The Strategy also provides for coordination mechanism through the regional Steering and Technical Management Committees and expert groups.
  2. EAC Contingency Plan
    • A draft EAC contingency on Avian Influenza and other TADs are in place.
    • The contingency plan is based on the WHO scenarios of a pandemic situation.
    • The contingency is supposed to guide regional response to a transboundary disease outbreak.
  3. An EAC Communication Strategy on Avian Influenza and other TADs:
    • The Communication Strategy calls for dissemination of appropriate targeted information at the right time to the right people.


EAC Regional Plans against Transboundary Animal Diseases

A number of regional plans of action have been developed and are in place. These include:

  1. Controlling Transboundary Animal Diseases in the Community
    • The overall objective of the proposal was to control and eradicate TADs in the EAC so as to increase livestock production and productivity, and promote and safeguard regional trade (focusing on two strategic diseases: FMD, CBPP)
  2. Preparedness and Response Plan on RVF
  3. Preparedness and Response Plan on AI - focusing on AI

Plan of Action for an Integrated Regional Emergency Preparedness and Response to RVF, AI and other Transboundary Human and Animal Diseases in East Africa - focusing on AI, RVF and other TADs.


Other Livestock Sector Initiatives

  1. Livestock Policy Initiatives
    • The need for review and harmonisation of regional livestock policies cannot be underscored. The policies will form a base framework on which the regional livestock will be organised.
  2. Pastoralism and Drylands Development
    • In the EAC, beef production is mainly in the drylands pastoralists areas. The Pastoralists herds form a major source of beef for the region. However, this areas are poorly developed and with minimal investment.
    • A regional steering committee with specific terms reference to handle issues on pastoralism development in the region was approved by the EAC Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security.
  3. Animal Breeding and Farm Animal Genetic Resources
    • Conservation and utilisation of farm animal genetic resources is critical issue in the EAC.
    • A regional committee on Farm Animal Genetic Resources was approved by the EAC Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security, with detailed terms of reference including aspects on protection of property rights so that local EAC farm animal genetic resources may not be lost to others who would like to patent it.

Constraints and challenges of the EAC Agriculture sector

Agricultural production and productivity in the EAC is largely constrained by natural factors, policy and adoption of technologies.

The reasons for poor performance of the agricultural sector include:

  1. Policy related constraints
    • Poor Governance
    • Inadequate legal and regulatory framework
    • Insecurity
    • Inadequate access to productive resources
    • Inadequate participation of local communities
    • Poor physical infrastructure and utilities
    • Weak institutional framework
    • Low public expenditure
  2. Technology related factors
    • Inadequate research, extension services and training
    • Prevalence of pests and diseases
  3. Nature related factors
    • Degradation of natural resources
    • Climatic and weather unpredictability
  4. Cross cutting and cross-sectoral related factors
    • High incidence of poverty
    • Inadequate social infrastructure
    • Gender inequality

These constraints have inhibited the rural economy’s potential to alleviate poverty through employment creation and income generation; meet growing food needs driven by rapid population growth and urbanisation; stimulate overall economic growth, given that agriculture is the most potential lead sector for growth and development; and conserve natural resources.

Despite these challenges, East Africa has a significant irrigation potential that remains unexploited. Irrigation can play an important role in increasing agricultural productivity, expanding area under production and stabilising agricultural production in situations of adverse weather conditions.

EAC strategic interventions

The Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy outlines the strategic interventions identified for the acceleration of agricultural sector development. The following underpin these interventions:

  1. Improving Food Security
  2. Accelerating irrigation development
  3. Strengthening Early Warning Systems
  4. Strengthening Research, Extension and Training
  5. Increasing Intra and Inter Regional Trade and Commerce
  6. Physical Infrastructure and Utilities

The EAC plans to intervene through the following mechanisms:

  1. Improving Food Security and Accelerating irrigation development by:
    • Improving the performance and increase the contribution of agriculture as a major entry point from development
    • Increasing availability of water in rain-fed agricultural areas to reduce poverty by increasing food security, high value products and improved incomes of the rural poor
  2. Strengthening Early Warning Systems and Strengthening Research, Extension and Training by:
    • Managing food shortages brought about by frequent droughts and floods
    • Increasing agricultural productivity and returns to farmers
  3. Increasing Intra and Inter Regional Trade and Commerce and Physical Infrastructure and Utilities by:
    • Developing an efficient network of physical infrastructure in rural areas to achieve high rates of growth, increasing productivity, trade and cooperation

Agriculture and Food Security

Enhancing food security and rational agricultural and livestock within the Community through harmonisation of agricultural policies as well as joint programmes for efficient and effective production.

EAC’s Agenda for Agriculture

Agriculture is one of East Africa’s most important sectors, with about 80 percent of the population of the region living in rural areas and depending on agriculture for their livelihood.

The agricultural sector is dominated by smallholder mixed farming of livestock, food crops, cash crops, fishing and aquaculture. The major food crops are maize, rice, potatoes, bananas, cassava, beans, vegetables, sugar, wheat, sorghum, millet and pulses.

Cash crops include: tea, cotton, coffee, pyrethrum, sugar cane, sisal, horticultural crops, oil-crops, cloves, tobacco, coconut and cashew nuts.

The livestock sub-sector consists of cattle, sheep, goats, and camels, mainly for meat and milk production; pigs and poultry for white meat and eggs respectively; hides and skins for export and industrial processing.

Fisheries products include both fresh water fish from rivers, dams and lakes and marine fish from the Indian Ocean. Forestry products include fruits, honey, herbal medicine, timber and wood for fuel.

Under this section, the following are highlighted:

  1. EAC strategic interventions
  2. Investment opportunities in the EAC Agriculture sector
  3. Constraints and challenges of the EAC Agriculture sector
  4. Livestock and fisheries sector overview

East African Community
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P.O. Box 1096
United Republic of Tanzania

Tel: +255 (0)27 216 2100
Fax: +255 (0)27 216 2190
Email: eac@eachq.org  |  sgoffice@eachq.org