Members and partners of the National Reference Group (NRG) have recommend the East African Community (EAC) to develop a more inclusive private sector development strategy by integrating climate, trade and food security provisions to enhance agro-processing development in the region.
EAC is currently embarking on developing its new Private Sector Development Strategy (PSDS) 2018-2022, which would aim to create a conducive business environment that facilitates private sector competitiveness for increased investment, productivity and trade.
NRG consists of Members of Parliament (MPs), regional institutions, businesses, private sector members, agro-processors, civil society, media, academia, farming communities and women groups.
The Group members held a meeting in Kigali on June 27, 2019 to discuss priorities to be included in the revised PSDS for the next five years.
During discussions in this meeting organized by ACORD Rwanda in Partnership with CUTS International, Hakizimana Protais, a project management experts said the new PSDS has to include small scale farmers as most of people involved in agriculture are small holder farmers, who supply a significant quantity of raw materials to agro-processing plants.
MP Izabiriza Marie Mediatrice reminded the need of capacity building for people engaged in the sector.
Standard harmonization in the region, high quality production and market information have also been raised as a gap in the industry.
During participants interactions
The representative of the Ministry of Agriculture from the Ministry’s Single Project Implementation Unit (SPIU), Arnaud Ishimwe, said the strategy developers should refer to the fourth agriculture transformation strategy which gives guidance of the sector till 2022. "PSTA4 document is a reference containing four pillars of what needs to be achieved and which addresses innovation, crop extension, productivity and resilience, as well as institution building," he said.
Vianney Rubagumya, the representation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MINAFFET), said the role of private sector in crucial for development, so that their thoughts have to be taken into account. "It is very important to consider that the private sector driven agenda is the most important part to take in order to achieve economic development," said Ntibagumya.
Vianney Rubagumya from MINAFFET and Francois Munyentwari from ACORD Rwanda chaired discussions
ACORD Rwanda Country Director, Francois Munyentwari, said participants contributed a lot and MINAFFET took note for consideration. "Agro-processing is already among the central and important aspects of EAC’s development priorities. What we have observed from the implementation of the first strategy of 2006 is that the climate change parameter did not appear at all. Even more, we cannot move forward without taking into account the protection of the environment," he said.
Francois Munyentwari, Country Director of ACORD Rwanda welcoming guests and NRG members
Participants recommended EAC to consider specific interventions on agro-processing, promoting value addition in primary products, promotion of national and regional agro-processors, supporting relevant SMEs, strengthening value and supply chains, ensuring specific initiatives and incentives for the consumption of EAC products, and promoting incentives for made in EAC products under the slogan “Buy East Africa, Build East Africa – BEABEA”.
They also recommended the EAC Secretariat and Member States to consider synergies between climate change, trade, food security and agro-processing during the development of the new PSDS, towards ensuring the private sector contributes to climate-aware, trade-driven and food security-enhancing agro-processing.
This advocacy meeting is organised as part of the project "Promoting Agriculture, Climate and Trade linkages in the EAC - Phase 2" (PACT EAC2). Since 2015, the project brings together hundreds of stakeholders, informs, trains and moves to advocacy action for more climate-aware, trade- driven and food security-enhancing agro-processing in East Africa.