By Sharon Atieno and Christabel Arina

Small scale farmers are demanding East African Community States to make a legal requirement to allocate and disburse 10 percent of national budgets to agricultural sector as required by the Malabo Declaration.

The Malabo Biennial Report 2017 released in January 2018 indicates that only Rwanda had the highest score in the continent of 6.1 against 10 points, while Kenya had 4.8, Burundi 4.7, Uganda 4.4, Tanzania 3.1 and South Sudan did not submit.

KESSF members

In a meeting held in Nairobi, small scale farmers cried foul on National agricultural budget allocations. “Despite agriculture being the biggest driver of the economy, the government allocates more funds to others sectors, “stated Justus Mololo, the secretary general of Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum (KESSF).

In a petition to the governments, KESSFF and other non-state actors are seeking speedy implementation of the Malabo Declaration, which includes governments allocating the 10 percent of the budget to agriculture in all EAC States.

“We have been in a continuous process of exerting pressure on the governments to act on the Agreement but with no success. The Biennial Review Report 2017 is a clear indication of the government’s laxity in actualizing their commitment,” said Alphayo Kuruna, Chairman of KESSF during the meeting.

According to the 2017 Progress Report to the African Union Commission (AUC), the Eastern Africa Region was not on track in enhancing three of the seven commitment areas of Malabo assessed in the Biennial Review Report. These areas include: investment finance in agriculture, ending hunger by 2025 and enhancing resilience to climate variability.

Due to the slow implementation, the petition is compelling the governments to ensure that there exists a multi-year action plan starting with the next budget 2019/2020 to allocate and release at least 10 per cent of national budget to agriculture sector and operationalize agriculture Investment Banks. This will help enhance commitment to end hunger and malnutrition by increasing food productivity and reducing post-harvest losses, reduce poverty by sustaining annual agricultural growth by at least 6 per cent and create job opportunities to at least 30 per cent of the youth.

In addition, the budget should commit to triple intra-Africa trade in agricultural commodities and services. The allocated budget should also enhance resilience in livelihood and production among small scale producers in the emergence of climate variability and other shocks.

The petition also calls for a just and fair disbursement system of 10 per cent from the yearly agriculture budget in support of small holder farmers especially youth and women. The 10 per cent funding to be as well directed to agro ecological  agriculture that is sustainable, promotes diversity, preserves and promotes local seeds varieties and community owned improved seeds, preserves agro biodiversity, soil, water and living organisms. The resources should ensure Small Scale Farmers have access to financing, adequate extension services, access to participatory research, suitable technology and equitable markets for our produce.

Furthermore, each Member State should put in place and operationalize national and regional platforms. This will enhance mutual accountability to action and results allowing stakeholders to regularly review plans and implementation of the Malabo Declaration 7 commitments and the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Zanzibar Resolution of 2016 before submission to the African Union.

The implementation of the Malabo Declaration will propel not just East Africa but Africa as a whole to achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and African Agenda 2063 as agriculture cuts across all sectors of the economy.

“Agriculture is the largest employer in the East African region, investment in the sector is the cornerstone to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030, African Agenda 2063 and the Kenya Big four Agenda on ensuring food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and affordable healthcare, “noted Kuruna.