East Africa member States government should give priority to local investors if agriculture is to thrive in the region.
At the same time, ensuring an environment of affordable borrowing for farmers is an important key to make the sector transform more lives for the good.
Contributing to the resolution of the EALA on the domestication of the Malabo Declaration on agriculture in the EAC Hon. Susan Nakawuki (Uganda) lamented that there was a tendency of favouring international or foreign investors at the expense of local investors.
She urged the Chair of the community, Council of Ministers, to ensure that local investors are given the attention and priority as advocated by the Malabo protocol.
Hon. Nakawuki also voiced concerns that the interest rate charged by commercial banks in the region were too high for local farmers.
“When you borrow money from the bank, they charge you interest from the first day and when the season is not the best, they will end up taking your collateral which is usually your land… you might end of remaining with nothing,” she noted in dismay.
She said Kenya has shown the way in putting a ceiling for borrowing (interest) rates charged by banks. She suggested that other EAC member states should follow suit especially on loans for promoting agriculture.
The MP noted that it was important for members of the public to be educated about agriculture to increase participation as a way of Improving livelihood.
She lamented about stereotype of farming being for the poor which was widespread. “This has caused some young people to sell their land (inherited) and go into the cities to run other business like boda boda. If the boda boda is stolen or breaks down all their hopes go down the drain.”
Hon. Nakawuki asked the council of ministers in the EAC to seriously address arable land issue in the region. She appreciated Tanzania for jealously guarding her land against exploitation by foreigners. She was of the opinion that land in EAC should be not be sold to foreigners at the expense of local communities, who might be left stare at hunger.