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EA farmers' body irked by delay

Posted on February, 13, 2018 at 11:19 am

By Zephania Ubwani

*Arusha. *An umbrella body for the farmers wants the East African Community Cooperative Societies Bill, 2014 assented by the regional governments.

The bill was passed by the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) nearly three years ago but none of the six member countries in the bloc
has assented it.

"What's remaining is assention by Heads of State. This is a bitter frustration for our farmers", said Stephen Muchiri, the CEO  of the East
African Farmer's Association (EAFF), an umbrella body with headquarters in Nairobi.

He told The Citizen here over the weekend that they were surprised by silence from the member countries in the bloc over the bill which aims to help the farmers increase production and access the markets.

"We have been getting filmsy excuses as to why assention is delayed. At times, we are told this or that country is having elections. But even
after the polls we don't see anything happening", he said.

He cited a case where Uganda President Yoweri Museveni directed his officials to take to him all the pending regional bills and protocols for him to append his signature, including the Cooperative Societies Bill.

"But for over two years, we don't have a law. This is a danger to the whole intergration. EAFF is demanding Heads of State sign it into law",
Mr. Muchiri  stressed.

He said he had been to the capitals of the partner states over the past two years to lobby for the matter througth the national farmers' associations but without succcess.

For Tanzania, these included the Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACT) and National Network of Farmers' Groups (Mviwata) while in Kenya it was mostly through the Kenya National Farmers' Federation and the Uganda Agricultural Show body, among others.

"It looks like the process is taking too long and this is a setback because the bill is targeting to assist the farmers drive down the cost of loans, access the markets and assuring the region of food security", he further explained.

The Bill was introduced in Eala as a Private Member's Motion by the former Eala member from Uganda Mike Sebalu way back in 2014.

The objective of the EAC Cooperative Societies Bill, 2014 is to provide a legal framework that would tap the potential of the cooperatives in the region through increased agricultural production and agri-business.

Elizabeth Nsimadala, the current president of EAFF from Uganda said the bill also has the potential to organize farmers in the six EAC member states form their own cooperatives but regretted it cannot be operationalized without being assented by all countries.

The bill, also intended to harmonize all the laws governing the cooperatives in the region, had  won considerable support from Tanzania before it was passed by Eala.

At one time, the Tanzania Federation of Cooperatives suggested it should pave way to the formation of the East African Cooperative Societies.


EAFF was established in 2001 as an umbrella body of the apex  farmers associations, cooperatives and commodity associations in 10 states namely Tanzania,Uganda, Kenya,  South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and others from neighboring EAC states that include Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eritrea Ethiopia and Djibouti.It has a membership of 20 million small and medium scale farmers from across the region.

Source: The Citizen