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COMESA to promote rice, cassava exports

ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
IN A bid to enhance rice and cassava grown in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) for possible export, participants from selected member countries met last week to strategise on how best to improve trade of commodities.
The meeting, which took place from July 13-14, 2015, drew participants from Zambia, Malawi, and Swaziland, while Zimbabwe was represented by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
A statement posted on the COMESA website on Wednesday notes that COMESA conducted a consultative meeting on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) value chains for the southern Africa sub-region, focusing on rice and cassava, to enhance trade within and outside the region.
The initiative will enable COMESA identify specific commodities in terms of value addition for increased competition between member states and the region.
Commenting on the development, COMESA investment promotions and private sector development (IPPSD) director Thierry Kalonji said the platforms are part of the consultative process to design regional programmes for the implementation of the COMESA and CAADP regional compact.
Mr Kalonji said one of the key priority areas in the COMESA regional CAADP compact is to remove barriers to agricultural trade and create better linkages for farmers to market their produce.
“From priority area II of the COMESA regional CAADP compact, the regional investment programme in agriculture II (RIPA II) has been designed to facilitate trade in agricultural commodities,” Mr Kalonji said  in a speech read by senior IPPSD officer Innocent Makwiramiti.
Earlier, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock deputy director Kezia Katyamba said value addition is the best way to enhance commodity competitiveness in terms of trade within and outside the COMESA region.
“CAADP continues to be a rallying framework for inclusive and sustainable development for Africa, aimed at leveraging the potential of agriculture for poverty alleviation”, she said when she officiated at the same meeting.
Similarly, COMESA and CAADP coordinator Sam Kanyarukiga said the meeting and sub-regional value chains will always be discussed in consultation with COMESA member states.

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