Africa must reclaim her rightful status on global agricultural commodity market, EAAPP conference
African countries have failed to use their competiveness and a range of strategic advantages to negotiate a favourable status for agricultural products of the global market, participants at the Eastern Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (EAAPP) end of Phase 1 Conference have been told.
“We continue to underrate our power to assert our rightful status on the global market. Multinational corporations take advantage of this to dominate benefits from commodities from our countries,” Prof. Nuhu Hatibu, the Chief Executive Officer, Kilimo Trust, told the delegates.
Prof. Hatibu was responding to concerns by delegates that efforts to reclaim benefits from trade in agricultural commodities are often futile due to dominance by multinationals.
He noted that, African countries are not strategic enough to compete globally, because they are still disintegrated, largely operating at national level despite the presence of Regional Economic Communities such as the East African Community, COMESA and ECOWAS.
“We must redefine markets to mean the East African Community or COMESA, and not to refer to national markets,” Hatibu urged delegates. “The regional markets and economic communities are not anchored into the national planning strategies. How, then are we working with them?”
The Conference, which is running from September 14 to 18 in Kikuyu, in the outskirts of Kenya’s capital Nairobi is meant to take stock of achievements and challenges as EAAPP Phase 1 comes to an end in December 2015.
Prof. Hatibu argued that agricultural production in Eastern and Central Africa is currently too small to warrant a cry of markets. “The problem for the farmer is not the profit. The problem is low production and quality of the produce. The farmers’ profitability should be based on quantities,” he said.
Hatibu also made a case for value addition and processing, noting that processing was critical in achieving the objectives of creating market for commodities, expanding the number of actors in the value chain and attaining the full potential for commodities.
“We cannot promote agricultural commodities without accompanying agro-processing industries. Besides opening up the range of products available from the commodity, scope of opportunities for employment and income generation, value addition increases the shelf life of agricultural commodities, hence guaranteeing all actors of their portion of benefit,” he explained.
Written by Ben Moses Ilakut
Communications, Public Relations Unit and Knowledge Hub-ASARECA