He said there was need to come up with measures aimed at protecting local industries and farmers from cheap imports, urging African nations to trade more with each other.
The Deputy President said Kenya was committed to working closely with other states to speed up regional and continental integration as part of efforts to boost trade.
He said Kenya was among those countries, which have agreed that continental and regional integration is the path to transforming African countries from being developing to developed economies.
Speaking during the 15th Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) Partnership Platform meeting held in Nairobi, the Deputy President said Kenya is determined to pursue free trade and regional integration.
Dr Ruto said Kenya was not only the first country to sign the free trade area agreement but also took the lead in ratifying it so as to use its boundaries as bridges to share its prosperity.
“I want to persuade you, political and knowledge leaders that this is our moment to take steps that change the fortunes of our continent,” said the Deputy President.
The theme of the meeting was ‘Enhancing Trade and Market for Accelerated Agriculture Transformation’.
“From our East African Community, which has made tremendous progress towards maximum integration, to Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which is the largest common market at its level of integration, the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) is a logical next step in our national vision of greater integration,” said Dr Ruto.
He said African countries must embrace economic and political integration in order to spur prosperity and ensure strategic security for their citizens.
The Deputy President said African countries have applied themselves strongly to creating policies and programmes that ease these critical challenges, but the success rate has persistently failed to reflect the efforts invested.
He said the move can be discouraging, and may lead to pessimism and widespread skepticism.
“A continent-wide approach offers many benefits, including scale, breadth, diversity and flexibility. This is why CAADP has become increasingly critical to African problem-solving and African development,” said the Deputy President.
He said agriculture remains key in unlocking opportunities for sustainable development in the continent.
“When we compare agriculture’s contribution to our GDPs with our collective share of world trade, we draw the unhappy observation that agriculture forms a big portion of a very tiny pie indeed,’ said Dr Ruto.
He called on the need to optimize agriculture through implementation of ideas that deliberately build and exploit the many complementarities located in the sector and its value chains.
He said access to markets, research and technology dissemination and increased food production are vital components of complementary commitments that aim to boost African countries’ individual domestic, as well as collective continent-wide production.
“This partnership platform is Africa’s policy framework for agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity for all,” said Dr Ruto.