COMESA and ASARECA sign pact to promote agriculture
In the current fast-changing global economy, innovations, improved technologies and practices are key to agricultural transformation as they support smallholder farmers and other agricultural producers to become competitive.
Not only do they increase agricultural productivity and sustainability, but they also reduce losses in the value chains thus enabling adaptation and mitigation of the effects of climate change.
Cognizant of this, COMESA has forged strategic partnership with the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), to develop solutions to challenges that face farmers in the region.
These include poor access to improved technologies, limited knowledge of good production practices, climate change, limited innovations, poor access to market and weak enabling policy environment.
The partnership was sealed today, in Lusaka, through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the Executive Director of ASARECA, Professor Jean Jacques Muhinda and the COMESA Secretary General (SG), Ms. Chileshe Kapwepwe.
Under the MoU, the two organizations will collaborate in agriculture research, food and natural resources management, markets and market information systems; capacity building; agricultural knowledge and technology transfer; and policy development and harmonization.
According to the SG, these issues are aligned to the COMESA Regional Agriculture Investment Plan, the Medium-Term Strategic Plan, and new ASARECA Strategic Plan as well.
“It is therefore in COMESA’s interest to form strategic partnerships for implementation of Agricultural Research for Development to foster economic integration and indeed we are committed to regionally coordinated AR4D,” she added.
In the recent past, COMESA and ASARECA have implemented joint programmes approved by the Council of Ministers of the regional bloc, especially in the areas of the seed trade harmonization regulations, climate change adaptation and biotechnology for some Member States, with notable benefits.
Reacting to the conclusion of the MoU, Prof. Muhinda said:
“I am excited to be your partner and we have the same objectives for the development of our region.” He noted that 10 out of 12 ASARECA Member States are in COMESA.
ASARECA has also appointed Ambassador Dr. Kipyego Cheluget, Assistant Secretary General in Charge of programmes in COMESA, as the Vice Chair of its Board of Directors. The Board unanimously endorsed the appointment last month, on 17 September 2019 in its meeting in Kampala, Uganda.
Under the COMESA Treaty, Member States commit themselves to cooperate in agricultural research and extension, utilizing existing national agricultural research and extension institutions on a network basis for the benefit of the Common Market. This enables agricultural research in the region to play a leading role in promoting market and income generation-oriented agriculture.
In addition, COMESA is implementing the Agenda 2063 and CAADP/Malabo Declaration whose aims include accelerated and inclusive agricultural transformation in Africa. The pact with ASRECA is therefore expected to provide impetus towards the realization of these goals.