EAC Deputy Secretary-General Christophe Bazivamo said that the fruits and vegetables value chain intra-trade strategy and action plan for 2021 to 2031 is projected to reach $25m in value with global exports attaining $1.3bn.
The plan was unveiled at the EAC public-private dialogue on fruits and vegetables, where he said the EAC Secretariat worked on the trade of fruits and vegetables intra-trade issue as commerce at present stands at $9.9m.
More investments are needed in nutritional and medicinal indigenous fruits and vegetable plants sub- sector, so as to improve production capacity, strengthen research and development, innovation, packaging, market access and trade facilitation.
Other envisaged aspects are quality infrastructure, skills, policy coordination and elaborating a trade framework, he stated, highlighting that EAC bloc global exports of vegetables are billed to grow to $950m and fruits to $350m by 2031 from $416m and $125m respectively, at present.
John-Bosco Kalisa, executive director for the East African Business Council (EABC) said horticulture contributes 20percent to 36 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of EAC economies, urging the partner states to liberalize air cargo flights in the zone to enhance the consolidation of horticulture exports.
EABC is committed to hosting and supporting the EAC Fruits and Vegetable Platform on its policy advocacy components such as addressing non-tariff barriers and regulations, along with costs that reduce export competitiveness in the region, he declared, laying the case for the EAC Secretariat to fast-track the development of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Regulations bill to reduce post-harvest losses.
Bernd Schmidt, a deputy programme manager at the German aid agency (GIZ) heading the ‘support to East African market driven and people-centered integration’ (SEAMPEC) said GIZ supported the EAC Secretariat to formulate the strategy and action plan, and looks forward to the upcoming second phase of SEAMPEC programme.
During that event, Dr. Irene Musebe the deputy director at the Kenyan Ministry of EAC and Regional Development launched the terms of reference of the regional fruits and vegetable platform.
The protocol points out that despite its potential, the regional horticultural sector is fragmented, smallholder dominated and with low yield and productivity. Other challenges include climate induced weather variability, diseases and pests and supply chain seasonality, it said.
Other impediments are limited business development services, limited quality infrastructure, limited processing technologies for value addition, high post-harvest losses and underdeveloped logistical infrastructure, it further noted.
The EAC public-private dialogue on fruits and vegetables brought together over 60 delegates from the ministries of Industry, Trade, Agriculture, bureaus of standards and industry leaders in horticulture from the six partner states, officials indicated.