ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
THE Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says there is urgent need to address misalignment between agriculture and trade policies to improve the country’s agricultural productivity and economic growth.
FAO has designed a project on trade-related capacity development in Eastern and Southern Africa to improve agricultural markets.
FAO country representative George Okech said the strategy will help facilitate dialogue between the relevant ministries, private sector, donor community and other stakeholders.
In a speech read for him by FAO assistant country representative Geoffrey Chomba at a trade stakeholders’ workshop last week, Mr Okech said the project will address domestic and external agricultural trade challenges.
“Initiatives to promote improved agricultural productivity, value chain development, employment creation and food security are often constrained by market and trade-related bottlenecks.
“These can result from misalignment between agricultural and trade policies, which can generate conflicting signals for agricultural value chain actors. Addressing [these bottlenecks] is, therefore, fundamental to creating an enabling environment for agricultural development initiatives to work,” he said.
FAO, in collaboration with the European Integrated Framework (EIF), the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) and inputs from Ministries of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Commerce, Trade and Industry and various stakeholder groups, conducted a study to assess gaps and potential synergies in policy- making processes relevant to agricultural trade and value chain development.
Mr Okech said despite the important role that trade plays, the development and implementation of coherent, appropriate policies and strategies to realise the full benefits of trade have not been achieved.
And officiating at the workshop, Ministry of Agriculture permanent secretary Julius Shawa commended FAO and other co-operating partners for taking an active approach in enhancing co-ordination between agriculture and trade policies.