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Nairobi hosts regional agricultural trade advisory forum

2nd May 2012
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A study commissioned and coordinated by the Eastern Africa Grain Council and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has shown that the agricultural sector is more protected through higher tariffs than any other sector in the region.

According to the study, the average tariffs on agricultural commodities are at 19.5 per cent compared to 13.4 per cent of non-agricultural commodities, yet most imports of the food products are from extra-EAC region.

The study will be presented today at the launch of a regional agricultural trade policy advisory forum in Nairobi.

Among other study findings are that import and export bans mainly put in place to encourage domestic production may have increased the food production index in most countries, but may have counterproductive impacts on consumer prices in the region.

It said producer prices have meanwhile increased four-fold in Kenya since the 1990s, while in other countries maize producer prices have remained relatively low and have shown a much less increase since the 1990s.

Additionally, there has been a continuous high trend in consumer prices despite the agricultural and trade policies put in place over the last ten years.

Both intra- and extra-East African Community trade in foods has been on the increase while intra-EAC trade has remained relatively low, accounting for about 10 per cent of the total region’s food import, and with the bulk of food imports coming from outside the region.

“This suggests that different countries’ food policies have not contributed to the most common objective of ‘self sufficiency’ in food,” the report said.

The advisory forum is therefore the cork off the bottle, as it were, which has been popped to give direction and a coordination mechanism to alter the effects of the policies in the region.

The forum will provide a framework to gather and collate supportive evidence-based policies and thereafter recommend appropriate remedial measures.

The forum is coordinated by the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) and the United Nations’ FAO.

It brings together experts from Eastern and Southern Africa countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Malawi, Zambia and Ethiopia.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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