Trade News

Consider wheat as a strategic crop, urges improvement centre

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By Fridah Nkibuga and


The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) want the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to consider wheat as a strategic crop.

It says this should be included in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) regional investment plan due to increasing demand.

This was stated during the side event on ‘Wheat for food security in Africa’ at the Africa Agriculture Science Week, in Accra, Ghana. COMESA was represented by Deputy CAADP Coordinator Dr Nalishebo Meebelo.

CIMMYT Principal Development Economist Dr Bekele Shiferaw disclosed that while Africa produces about 23 million tonnes of wheat, the continent consumes 53 million tonnes forcing it to meet the deficit through imports.

Dr Shiferaw said Africa currently imports about 36 million tonnes of wheat with the largest demand from North Africa.

He says CIMMYT is developing the Wheat for Africa (W4A) strategy aimed at intensifying and extending wheat production to small-scale farmers to narrow the import gap.


COMESA region trading more with outside world than itself

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By Fridah Nkibuga

Member states of COMESA trade bloc are trading more with the outside world than among themselves due to numerous trade barriers.

Uganda minister of Animal Industry Mr Bright Rwamirama says in 2011, global-COMESA trade was US $240 billion, while in 2012 it was US $262 billion representing a growth of nine per cent.

During the same period, intra-COMESA trade was US $18.4 billion while in 2012 it was $19.3 billion, representing a growth of only five per cent.

He says this means that COMESA countries are trading more with outside countries than with their neighbours with whom they have a free trade agreement.

He says a number of trade diagnostic studies shows that the cost of complying with technical measures and conformity assessment procedures constitutes a significant proportion of trading costs in the region, occasionally blocking trade and ultimately translating into trade barriers.

“Non-tariff barriers greatly undermine the hard work of traders in industry, private sector and SMEs within the region,” he says.

“Therefore, the removal of sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) non-tariff barriers that are serving no justified purpose is an important priority area under the COMESA market integration pillar of the proposed COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA).”


Manufacturers from Uganda oppose railway levy

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By Fridah Nkibuga

Manufacturers from Uganda have opposed the 1.5 per cent levy imposed by the Kenyan government on all imports to raise money to build a new railway line.

During the budget speech in June, Kenya’s national treasury cabinet secretary Henry Rotich announced the levy that will be charged on all imports coming through the port of Mombasa. This affects imports destined to the two landlocked countries that use the port.

The manufacturers who attended the EAC Secretary General Manufacturers’ Forum in Kampala Uganda said the move was unfair because the proposed modern railway line will not cover their countries.

“To Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA), this was unfair, as the rail development won’t be implemented in all EAC Partner States and other users like South Sudan and Eastern DR Congo whom are all paying the levy,” says a source who attended the meeting.

However, it is these manufacturers who suffer huge losses due to inefficiencies along the Northern Corridor stretching from Mombasa to Kigali though Malaba and Kampala.


COMESA invites private sector to develop standards

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By Fridah Nkibuga

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) should develop common standards for its goods in order to make exports more attractive.

COMESA secretary general Mr Sindiso Ngwenya says some importers and especially in the European Union (EU) have used weak standards regime in the region to discriminate on some agricultural products.

The EU is the largest export for agricultural products from Africa though most are exported as raw materials that fetch low prices and also face frequent price fluctuations.

“With regard to pharmaceuticals, the Secretariat is mandated to establish a pharmaceuticals desk, and the modalities for that are being explored within the ongoing restructuring process of the secretariat,” says Ngwenya,


EAC take steps to increase food safety in the region

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By Fridah Nkibuga

Trade in food and other agricultural commodities in the East African Community (EAC) are likely to become easier following the enactment of safety measures.

EAC Heads of State and the Partner States have approved the EAC Protocol on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures and the validation of the EAC Livestock Development Policy at national and regional levels. EAC Deputy Secretary General Ms Jesca Eriyo said the EAC Sanitary and PhytoSanitary Protocol will help in facilitating trade in food and agriculture commodities as well as providing food security and livelihoods to over 80 per cent of the population depending on agriculture in the region.

“In addition, the sanitary measures for the fish and fisheries including the companion documents have been finalized and printed through the support of the Smartfish project”.

The 5th meeting of the EAC Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security meeting in Arusha, Tanzania made a wide range of decisions and directives meant to propel forward the sector in the overall regional integration process.


COMESA to assist Kenya and Zimbabwe meet standards to exports fruits to South Africa

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By Fridah Nkibuga

Fruits and vegetables exporters from Kenya and Zimbabwe will receive help that will enable them raise standards of their products to access the South African market.

Senior officials from COMESA Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) Unit, as well as a consultant from Phyto-Solutions of South Africa, are involved in an exercise to map the pest risks that Kenya and Zimbabwe are facing in exporting fruits.

They are also seeking ways to address these risks. Kenya is among the few African countries exporting horticultural produce to the European Union under the preferential trade agreement.

Sources say the SPS Unit is in the process of compiling the Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) for packaged chillies, and stone fruit exports to South Africa, from Kenya and Zimbabwe respectively.

In a meeting with the Kenya Plant Health Inspection Services (KEPHIS), the SPS Expert, Martha Byanyima said that COMESA seeks to open more trade doors so that the region’s fruits and vegetable are more easily exported among Member States and the rest of the world.


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