Strategic objective: To influence agricultural and trade policies, strategies and practices that promote sustainable production, value addition and rural transformation.
The agriculture sector is one of the most vital productive sectors in developing countries. In Uganda and the East African region , the sector employs over 68% of the population, providing incomes to millions of people, and contributing on average 23.2% to the country’s and region’s Gross Domestic Product ( G.D.P). Indeed this sector has for long been referred to as the backbone of Uganda and the region’s
However the sector continues to export low value raw materials, and its contribution to GDP is still relatively low and continues to decline despite the fact that the population employed in the sector is still almost the same. This has caused the majority of the population; and mostly women who comprise over 70% of active labour in the sector to remain in poverty. The declining returns from the agriculture sector have yielded increased rural to urban migration, hence increasing rates of urban unemployment and under employment and its related evils including crime. The biggest challenge facing the agricultural sector in the region is the limited value addition and the limited production infrastructure including post harvest handling facilities.
Therefore agricultural trade is composed mainly of raw or low value products with minimal returns to the farmers at household level and at national level leading to an ever increasing trade deficit. The far reaching implications of climate change on agricultural productivity have also been overlooked, and there is limited coherence between agriculture, food security, trade and climate change despite the interdependence between them. This situation can be attributed to a number of factors, however what is most apparent is the low level of commitment by Uganda and the EAC Partner States to develop the sector and the declining role of the state in revamping the economy. For example, in all the Partner States, the budgetary allocations to the sector fall below the agreed 10% of the Maputo declaration.
The agricultural policies and protocols in place at national, regional and global levels are focused on promoting private investor rights while undermining community and farmers’ rights and issues of biodiversity, food sovereignty and sustainable production. The trade processes, negotiations and agreements have further undermined the role of the governments in directing agricultural development while promoting private driven agenda in agriculture transformation. This has subsequently limited small scale farmers’ sustainable access and ownership of factors of production especially seed and land despite the fact that they dominate Uganda’s agriculture sector. The agricultural agenda has also not facilitated value addition, industrialization and rural transformation in Uganda and the EAC region. Stakeholder interventions to address these issueshas been largely geared towards increased agricultural production and productivity for food security with minimal attention to policy issues that promote backward and forward linkages in the economy, rural transformation, protection of biodiversity, and farmers’ rights and access to factors of production . Against this background, this Programme Area will focus on addressing these issues.