East African Business Council Vice Chairman, Felix Mosha said EAC as a whole also badly needs an agricul- tural revolution that will dramati- cally increase commodity produc- tion. “There is need to transform our current subsistence agriculture to commercial one through a num- ber of reforms such as on policy to support formalized and structured trade through removal of barriers,” Mosha said at the sidelines of the 2nd East African Business and En- trepreneurship Conference and Ex- hibition held in Dar es Salaam last week.
He said currently, the country’s agricultural productivity is low so too is that of the EAC members with over two thirds of the 165 million people relying on it but contributing
only one third of gross domestic product.Mosha further explained that the region needs to mechanise its agriculture sector while strengthening of linkages with agro-processors through pro-local content policies and increas-
ing productivity.“But there is need to also improve on com-
petitiveness through adoption of a freehold land tenure systems so that farmers can access credit with low interest rate.
According to the East African Community In- dustrial Competitiveness Report for 2017, agri- culture is dominated by smallholder farmers with less than 15 percent of the total production marketed and less than 10 percent of producers having access to credit.
It however explain that inefficient production systems characterized by rain-fed farming, use of a hand hoe and small sub-divided land parcels are holding back growth in the sector dubbed backbone of EAC economies.
“Member states need to diversify their manu- facturing base and raising local value addition from existing rate of below 10 percent to at least 40 percent. This can be achieved through pro- moting the development and investment in strategic regional industries in sectors such as agriculture,” statee the EAC-ICR 2017.
Godfrey Simbeye, Executive Director, Tanza- nia Private Sector Foundation was of the view that EAC members should accelerate promotion of cross boarder investments and double efforts to encourage East Africans to take advantage of regional opportunities to grow their businesses instead of over-depending on Foreign Direct In- vestment and outside markets.
“We need to create a credible based of re- gional investment regime that enhance pre- dictability of investment policies and laws with mechanism to resolve trade disputes as quickly as possible,” Simbeye argued.
He also advocated for the transformation of micro, small and medium size enterprises’ ca- pacity so that they contribute up to 50 percent of manufacturing GDP from the current 20 per- cent.