EALA approves key report on Agriculture, demands additional funds for sector
East African Legislative Assembly, Arusha, Tanzania: 15th May 2019: The regional Assembly has once again reiterated the need for Partner States to implement the Malabo Declaration as a means to ensuring food security and transformation of the agricultural sector. With that, the Assembly at its sitting late yesterday approved the report of the Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources on Budgetary Enhancement in the Agricultural Sector.
The report presented to the House by the Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Mathias Kasamba states that despite its potential, the agriculture sector has been growing slowly over the years and continues to attract limited funding from governments, far below the continental benchmark of 10%. Moreover, Partner States are yet to put in place action plan(s) for attaining the 10% budgetary allocation to the sector. Hon Kasamba also told an attentive House that young people are losing interest in agricultural activities, a situation which, if not addressed, threatens the sustainability of the sector.
Conscious of the challenges and opportunities of agriculture and its positive contribution to economic transformation on the Africa continent, the African Union leaders adopted a Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) known as the Maputo Declaration in 2003. A decade later, the African Union leaders reiterated their engagement to agriculture by adopting the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation in June 2014. Accordingly, all Partner States are in consonance with the Malabo Declaration expected to allocate 10% of their national budgets to Agriculture, which is key contributor to the nations’ gross domestic product, accounting for dependency of the livelihoods of over 70% of the population.
The report reveals a number of challenges within the Partner States, while saying that many Partner States can address some of the challenges given the fact they are at an advanced stage of preparation of their 2019/2020 national budgets.
At debate time, Hon Engineer Habib Mnyaa called on the Assembly to collaborate more closely with the relevant committees in the national Parliaments to allow for the push of enhanced budgets. Hon Amb Fatuma Ndangiza termed agricultural sector as crucial in the economies of the Partner States and the region. “Agriculture remains to be critical in all the EAC Partner States with 70-72% of the citizens in the region depending on the Agriculture Sector”, the legislator remarked.
Hon. Pierre Celestin Rwigema Informed the House of the necessity for the Partner States to secure ready market for farmers’ produce within the region. Further, the legislator reiterated improved infrastructure would allow for smooth movement of the agricultural produce. Hon. Mary Mugyenyi remarked that agricultural farming methods need to be modernized while calling upon stakeholders to do more to attract interest from the youth in the region.
Other Members who rose up in support of the report were Hon. Abdikadir Omar Aden, Hon. Sophie Nsavyimana, Hon.Gai Deng, Hon. Abdullah Makame, Hon. Francoise Uwumukiza and Hon. Jean Claude Barimuyabo.
The Agriculture Sector is a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the East African region with Kenya accounting for 31.3%, Uganda (25%), Burundi (34.2%), Tanzania (30%), Rwanda (33%) and South Sudan (34.5%).
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About the East African Legislative Assembly:
The East African Legislative Assembly is the Legislative Organ of the East African Community. Its Membership consists of a total of 62, of whom 54 are elected Members (9 from each Partner State) and eight ex-officio members (the Ministers responsible for EAC Affairs from the Partner States, the Secretary General of the Community and the Counsel to the Community).
The East African Legislative Assembly has legislative functions as well as oversight of all East African Community matters. The enactment of legislation of the Community is put in effect by means of Bills passed by the Assembly and assented to by the Heads of State, and every Bill that has been duly passed and assented to become an Act of the Community and takes precedent over similar legislations in the Partner States. EALA has to date passed 79 pieces of legislation.