Arusha. The East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) will push for agriculture to take a centre stage in the region’s development.
It decried poor access of the smallholder farmers to affordable credits and modern technologies for improved production.
“Farmers are the majority of our people but are the least cared for,” lamented House Speaker Martin Ngoga here yesterday.
He said despite agriculture being the backbone of the East African Community (EAC) economies, annual budget allocation to the sector left a lot to be desired.
The budgets for each of the six partner states to agriculture has been declining from about five to six per cent of the total budgets years ago to as low as three or two now.
Mr Ngoga expressed his concerns yesterday during the Fourth EAC Agriculture Budget Summit which attracted members of the farmers’ organisations from across the region.
He said Eala would push for the creation of an investment platform for the agricultural sector within the structures of the EAC and its allied bodies.
He added that already the EAC partner states are being engaged on how to implement the Malabo Declaration goals on agriculture and allied sectors. The Declaration was made by the African Union (AU) Heads of States during their Summit in the Equatorial Guinea capital of Malabo in 2014.
The agriculture goals under the Declaration are focused on investment finance in agriculture and eradicating hunger in the continent by 2015. The other component is enabling farmers in Africa to adopt climate resilient agriculture and technologies in the wake of the climate change.
The summit which took place at the EAC headquarters was organized by the Eastern and Southern Africa Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF).
The lobby group was established in 2002 during the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg by small scale farmers operating in the region.
The organidation was created to empower the smallholder farmers through agricultural financing, technology and access to markets for their products.
In January this year,leaders of the farmers’ body petitioned the EAC, requesting the governments to increase budget for the agricultural sector to at least 10 per cent of the total budget.