Agricultural production and productivity in the EAC is largely constrained by natural factors, policy and adoption of technologies. The reasons for poor performance of the agricultural sector include:

  • Policy related factors:
i. Governance,
ii. Legal and regulatory framework,
iii. Insecurity,
iv. Inadequate access to productive resources,
v. Inadequate participation of local communities,
vi. Poor physical infrastructure and utilities,
vii. Weak institutional framework,
viii. Low public expenditure; and
ix. Unfavourable terms of trade

  • Technology related factors:
i. Inadequate research, extension services and training; and
ii. Prevalence of pests and diseases

  • Nature related factors:

i. Degradation of natural resources; and
ii. Climatic and weather unpredictability

  • Cross cutting and cross-sectoral related factors:

i. High incidence of poverty;
ii. Inadequate social infrastructure; and
iii. Gender imbalances

The above constraints have inhibited the rural economy’s potential to: alleviate poverty through employment creation and income generation; meet growing food needs driven by rapid population growth and urbanisation; stimulate overall economic growth, given that agriculture is the most potential lead sector for growth and development; and conserve natural resources.

The main challenge facing the rural sector is to increase productivity and economic growth in order to halt the worsening food security and to reduce poverty by 50 percent by the year 2015. This is at a time when East Africa faces declining financial resource base, HIV and AIDS pandemic, globalisation and declining natural resources, which reduce availability of investment funds.

East Africa has a significant irrigation potential that remains unexploited. Irrigation can play an important role in increasing agricultural productivity, expanding area under production and stabilizing agricultural production in situations of adverse weather conditions. Opportunity to expand irrigated agriculture exists. Utilisation of this opportunity would boost agricultural production.

The Community is faced with a number of challenges: harmonizing various policies and legislation; increasing involvement of local communities in planning and decision making; increasing production and economic growth; elimination of trans boundary pests and diseases including wildlife diseases; expanding irrigated agriculture; reducing poverty levels; combating the HIV and AIDS pandemic; slowing down the environmental degradation and desertification process; sustaining utilization of natural resources; establishing an effective early warning system and improving governance, security and political stability.


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