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COMESA advocates for policy harmonization on trade in fertilizers and soil health products

COMESA advocates for policy harmonization on trade in fertilizers and soil health products

The COMESA Secretariat is currently participating in the ongoing Special Summit of the African Union on Fertilizer and Soil Health in Nairobi, Kenya.

During the SummitCOMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe addressed attendees, highlighting the concerning decline of soil health in many parts of Africa. She emphasized that this decline poses a threat to the resilience of agricultural systems and sustainable food production.

Kapwepwe noted that compromised soil health inhibits the soil’s ability to respond to yield-enhancing inputs such as fertilizers and improved crop varieties. This situation increases the vulnerability of smallholder farmers and rural communities to external shocks.

“African governments need to enact enabling policy, legal and regulatory frameworks to guide, support and incentivize the sustainable use of fertilizers and other soil resources,” she said in her statement delivered by Dr Mohamed Kadah, Assistant Secretary General in charge of Programmes.

She added that regulatory provisions for sustainable soil management should address all possible uses of fertilizers and other soil health products and their impacts on the soil and the wider ecosystem, while ensuring consistency and streamlined processes across all concerned governmental agencies.

“In this regard, specific attention should be given to quality assurance, packaging and labeling to deal with the challenges of counterfeit and low-quality products on the market,” she added.

Ms. Kapwepwe also called for  strengthening of the private sector’s involvement in driving business around soil fertility improvement for food and nutrition security and economic growth on the continent. She proposed appropriate schemes such as tax incentives to motivate the private sector, including small and medium-size enterprises to invest in fertilizer production and other soil health improvement products and services.

Some of COMESA’s interventions to drive agricultural transformation and to improve food security in the region include supporting and promoting regional agricultural value chains through initiatives such as the Regional Enterprise Competitiveness and Access to Markets Programme (RECAMP).

COMESA is also promoting regional seed trade through harmonisation of seed regulations to trigger seed trade across the region and enhance farmers access to quality seeds for increased productivity. This program is being implemented by the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA), which is a specialized agency of COMESA.

Strengthening agri-food data systems through the development of a digital Regional Food Balance Sheet is another flagship initiative under implementation in partnership with the African Green Revolution Alliance (AGRA) and several other development partners. This is a platform to provide real-time and forward-looking data to inform evidence-based food security and trade policies as well as business and investment decisions that can spur regional trade and investment in agri-food systems.

The Secretary General further informed the forum about COMESA’s program on fertilizer policy and regulatory harmonization in partnership with the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership. This program is aimed at harmonizing fertilizer policies and financing mechanisms and promote regional fertilizer trade.

Notwithstanding, the progress made on many regional and continental fronts, she stressed that much more needs to be done, especially on harmonization of policies and regulations as a prerequisite to enhancing regional investment and trade in fertilizers and soil health products and services.



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