Arusha. The East African Community (EAC) has said it wants all barriers impeding rice trade within the region eliminated.
The measure, it contends, would raise incomes of all value chain actors, among them farmers and traders.
“EAC member countries should commit to eliminating non-tariff barriers impeding rice trade within and across the partner states,” the secretariat said in a dispatch yesterday. Rice, one of the leading food crops in the region, featured during the recent trade wars within the region, especially between Tanzania and Kenya.
Some months ago, Kenya stopped importation of rice from Tanzania over claims of standards and packaging.
The ministers in their meeting, which ended here on Friday, called on the EAC partner states to strengthen coordination among agencies involved in the collection and computation of data on rice.
The Arusha-based secretariat said the partner states were directed to establish a mechanism for computing market information on rice deficit and surplus status.
The six partner states in the bloc - Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan - were implored to prioritise awareness creation on the potential utilisation of rice by-products.
As a sign that rice production is being made the centre stage, the EAC secretariat in Arusha will soon organise a regional rice platform.
The ministerial meeting under the aegis of the EAC Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security also adopted the draft EAC harmonised Seed and Plant Varieties Bill.
The six partner states were urged to consider adoption of hands-on incubation training in agribusiness and sustainable agro-ecological practices so as to increase youth employment in agriculture.