Grain sector stakeholders from 11 African countries called for collaboration to revitalize value chain resilience amid drought and other disruptions in countries like Kenya.
Speaking at the 9th African Grain Trade Summit in Kwale yesterday, stakeholders said barriers to market access, different policies and tax regimes, poor infrastructure, losses after harvest and aflatoxins are some of the challenges that need to be addressed.
East African Community (EAC) Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed said there is a need to harmonize policies and taxes among countries in the region in order to bring down the prices of cereals.
“Countries in the region must harmonize their policies to reduce the cost of grains in order to remove trade barriers such as market access and taxation,” he said.
The weeklong summit was hosted by the Nairobi-based Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC), Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Grain Bulk Handlers, Grain Industries Capital Reef, Food Trade Coalition in Africa, Igrain and EfKen Leasing.
They brought together delegates from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Zambia, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.
Mohamed said that apart from the biting drought, Kenya is unable to produce enough grain due to fragmented plots of land.
He added that the government is adopting other measures such as large-scale irrigation to ensure food security.
“The government is considering large irrigation projects to alleviate the drought. The government is working with the private sector to explore different ways of ensuring food security and reducing the cost of food, ”he said.
EAGC Executive Director Gerald Masila said the summit enabled stakeholders to build sustainable food systems and ensure the sector’s recovery after facing major disruptions such as Covid-19.
He called for effective governance systems at national and international levels, evidence-based and well-targeted policies and research and development to improve productivity.
“The summit presents an opportune moment to reflect and rightly refocus our interventions on the functioning of our food systems through thick and thin,” he said.