By Charles Mangwiro
Africa should promote home grown agriculture products, increase land under cultivation with better technology which will lead to more employment and trade said William Ruto, Kenyan Deputy President on Wednesday.
He was speaking during the inaugural ceremony of the 15th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Partnership Platform whose theme is “Enhancing Trade and Market Access for Accelerated Agriculture Transformation,” being held at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi.
Ruto told participants that Kenya was committed to working closely with other states to speed up regional and continental integration as part of efforts to boost trade.
He added that Kenya was among those countries, which have agreed that continental and regional integration is the path to transforming African countries from being developing to developed economies.
“I want to persuade you, political and knowledge leaders that this is our moment to take steps that change the fortunes of our continent,” said Ruto to the participants from across the continent.
Kenya he said, is determined to pursue free trade and regional integration and that his country was not only the first to
sign the free trade area agreement but also took the lead in ratifying it so as to use its boundaries as bridges to share its prosperity.
According to Ruto, a former agriculture Minister, African countries must embrace economic and political integration in order to spur prosperity and ensure strategic security for their citizens.
“From our East African Community, which has made tremendous progress towards maximum integration, to Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, which is the largest common market at its level of integration, the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) is a logical next step in our national vision of greater integration,” said Ruto amid applause from the participants.
Key factors limiting Africa’s trade in agricultural products include poor quality of physical infrastructure, inefficient customs processes and high harassment costs, inconsistent regional standards and regulations, and non-tariff trade barriers including stringent food safety and traceability requirements in importing countries.
Commissioner, Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union, Josepha Sacko applauded Kenya’s commitment to the regional and continental integration in the ongoing efforts to promote trade among African states.
“I must laud Kenya’s commitment and fast-tracking of ACFTA bearing in mind that the country was the first to ratify it,” said Sacko at the meeting.
She asked African countries to work together in coming with a roadmap and policy for agriculture to take its rightful place in the market.
‘We should enhance trade by coming up with incentives aimed at promoting agricultural sector instead of blaming others on the challenges including food shortage facing the continent,” she explained.
Ms Sacko said boosting of intra-Africa trade in agriculture should be emphasized as the only way to achieve the needs of the continent.
Chairman of Non State Actors under CAADP Chris Muyunda said the African continent should work towards doubling its trade efforts besides eliminating barriers that have become stumbling block to social economic development.
“As African countries, we need to share information on the types of goods and services required in our respective nations,” Muyunda told participants to the platform.
Despite recent growth in agricultural trade deficits, there are promising signs of export diversification, both in commodities traded and trade partners, as well as increasing intra-African trade in agricultural commodities. This is according to the key findings of the Africa Agriculture Trade Monitor 2018.