UGANDA – The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), are drafting a new regional policy on agricultural and trade  reforms to boost trade between member states.

ASARECA brings together stakeholders in the agricultural sector to generate, share and promote knowledge and innovations to solve common challenges facing agriculture in the member countries. The member states include Burundi, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

The Executive Director, Mr. Enock Warinda, made the remarks during the opening of a dialogue between the 11 member states on the new regional policy which, according to him, will be ready in a month. He informed that the reforms will focus on the standardization of some of the commodities traded within the Eastern and Central African region.

“We want to increase the trade, accessibility of the farmers and practitioners to the market both within and outside their countries. We have already come up with a framework we believe this dialogue is going to enrich. We will be ready with the draft and share it with a caucus of professionals who will analyze it to make sure it is customized to each country, then escalate it to the regional level,” he said.

Mr. Warinda said the regional policy is aimed at having an expanded market base for commodities and trade.

“We are going to come up with a good roadmap on how to increase trade, market accessibility and standardization of our goods within the region,” he said.

The programme officer in-charge of policy at ASARECA, Ms. Julian Barungi, said the policy framework will be rolled out through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)-Expilar IV Project (CAADP-XP4 Project).

CAADP is Africa’s policy framework for agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity for all. In Maputo, Mozambique in 2003, the African Union (AU) Summit made the first declaration on CAADP as an integral part of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

“We want to enable agricultural research and innovation, including extension services to contribute effectively to food and nutrition security, economic development and climate mitigation in Africa,” she said.

Ms. Barungi said the policy framework will strengthen the operational capacity of ASARECA and its sub-regional partner organizations through improving collaboration within the national, sub-regional and continental agriculture research and extension organizations.

The Director General of Learning Agriculture, Food and Security in government of South Sudan, Mr. John Pangech, said the reform policy will help address challenges faced by countries in the agricultural sector.

“There is a decline of agricultural performance in our country. Farmers are having low rotations, deficiency in technologies and lack of opportunities in terms of market, among other issues we face that we hope the policy will solve,” he said.

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