EAC Secretary General hands over Laboratory Equipment to EAC Partner States to improve regional trade in seed potatoes
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 3rd December, 2022: The EAC Secretary General Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki has handed over laboratory equipment and consumables to the Focal Points of the EAC Affairs Ministries on behalf of National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) in the Partner States under an EAC-GIZ project called “Improvement of Regional Trade with Seed Potatoes in Eastern Africa.”
The aim of the project is to provide framework conditions for the development of trade in seed potatoes through support to development of regional strategies and action plans, capacity development of NPPOs in SPS measure as well as development and harmonization of regional seed potato standards.
Speaking during the handover ceremony at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, the Secretary General disclosed that the equipment is expected to be a game changer in the Partner States seed potato trade especially in strengthening the technical and implementation capacity of staff and laboratories to effectively operationalize required Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures to facilitate seed potato trade in the region.
Dr. Mathuki said that the potato sub-sector is one of the priority value chains in the region and is ranked among the top 10 strategic staple crops for food and income security in the EAC Partner States.
The Secretary General informed the meeting that from the recent Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report shows that, in the last 20 years, potato production in the region has increased from 1.6 million tonnes to 3.4 million tons with the increase resulting from expansion of acreage under potato cultivation rather than from improved productivity.
Dr. Mathuki said that low productivity and limited use of quality seed potato by less than 4% of farmers in the EAC, have remained key bottlenecks in the region, despite initiatives aimed at improving variety development and introduction, seed production and trade within the region.
“With this laboratory equipment and consumables, the region is expected to increase production, availability, efficiency and reliability of certified and assured seed potato for production and trade in the region. We count on you to take the equipment home and bring it into use," added Dr. Mathuki.
The Secretary General hailed the Federal Republic of Germany through GIZ, for assisting EAC with the necessary financial and technical support to get the equipment.
On his part, the Deputy Cluster Coordinator GIZ/EAC Mr. Max Middeke said the production of certified seed potatoes is still in its infancy in all EAC Partner States. Different phytosanitary requirements for seed potatoes have been recognised as non-tariff trade barriers by the EAC Partner States.
Mr. Middeke said well-regulated trade with seed potatoes between the countries of East Africa will provide crucial incentives for the private sector to step up its investments in seed potato production.
“I want to thank and congratulate the EAC Secretariat and the different stakeholders of the national and regional platform for their achievements so far. With the EAC Regional Seed Potato Strategy and Action Plan in place, the priorities and necessary actions for further developing the sector are clearly outlines,” said Mr. Middeke.
The project “Improvement of Regional Trade with Seed Potatoes in Eastern Africa” is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH since 2021.
A total of six (6) Stereo microscope, six (6) microscope cameras and six (6) Monitors were handed over to the National Plant Protection Organisations through EAC Affairs Focal points to support in harmonization of procedures for testing, inspection, and certification protocols, to increase trust and confidence between Partner States regulatory agencies.
It is hoped that increased trust and confidence between the national regulatory agencies will lead to increased cross-border trade in potato seed and produce.
For more information, please contact:
Simon Peter Owaka
Senior Public Relations Officer
Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department
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Email: sowaka [at] eachq.org
About the East African Community Secretariat:
The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of seven Partner States, comprising the Republic of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Kenya, the Republic of Rwanda, the Republic of South Sudan, the Republic of Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
The EAC Secretariat is ISO 9001: 2015 Certified