The Eastern Africa Farmers’ Federation (EAFF) has set out a strategy to fully exploit the region’s livestock potential. EAFF is a regional farmers’ organisation that includes national farmer federations, co-operatives and commodity associations from ten states in Eastern Africa: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
EAFF has signed a memorandum of understanding with the East African Community and has observer status. This means the organisation has a mandate to ensure that farmers in the region are fully and effectively engaging in all processes related to agriculture and food security coordinated by EAC.
The new strategy falls in line with EAC’s Livestock Policy designed to attain an annual growth rate of at least 5% within the sector and the livestock contribution to the agricultural GDP surpassing 50%.
Boosting the sector could also help address poverty, hunger, unemployment and degradation of natural resources in the ten member states, according to the EAC.
In August EAFF held a regional meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss the livestock policy. At the meeting members looked at the policy’s four pillars.
Some of the measures suggested include strengthening livestock extension systems, promoting innovative technologies to transform livestock production processes and building resilience to risks and shocks to secure livestock assets.
The policy is intended to regulate the transaction of livestock and its products across member states. A common market for livestock in the region has already been established at the border town of Namanga.
The policy would ensure a harmonised veterinary regulation and control livestock trans-boundary diseases. The need for common policies to deal with trans-boundary animal disease was felt earlier last year in Tanzania, where African swine fever claimed over 4,000 pigs worth Tshl. 4bn.
“Livestock is more than just trade in this region. Livestock and agriculture integrates this region as a community,” said Eastern Africa Farmers’ Federation president, Philip Kiriro, at the meeting in Nairobi. In Kenya 80% of the land is arid, which means that livestock keeping is the only option for most farmers in the country.
Stakeholders, including farmers and co-operative members are now asked to provide guidance in coming up with a framework of implementing the policies. These aim to complement the already existing national initiatives within the 10 countries.
Photo: EAFF meeting in Nairobi