EU invests 20 million euros into COMRAP

The Post Online The European Union (EU) has invested about 20 million euros into the Common Market for Eastern and Southern African Regional Agro Inputs Programme (COMRAP) meant to help enhance food production and marketing in the region.

And Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has come up with a regional agricultural inputs programme meant to enhance food security, productivity and competitiveness through enhancing smallholder farmers’ access to farming inputs.

Meanwhile, agriculture deputy minister Allan Mbewe said there was need to deal with the impact of rising food prices in the region as it affects over 60 per cent of its population.

During the consultative meeting of the Comesa Region Agro-Inputs Programme at Intercontinental Hotel yesterday, Comesa assistant secretary general-programmes Stephen Karangizi said COMRAP, which was being implemented by the Comesa Specialised Agency on markets and food security, arose from a need to cushion vulnerable households from the impact of sharp rises in food prices that were experienced between 2007 and 2008.

He said over the same period, there was a spike in the prices of key agricultural inputs which include fertiliser, diesel and seed.

And Alliance for Common Trade for Southern Africa (ACTESA) chief executive officer Dr Cris Muyunda said in order to be able to integrate farmers into markets, ACTESA would ensure that it remained close to key stakeholders.

“We will remain close to farmers, traders and processors but also implementing organisations such as government, researchers, private sector associations and others,” he said.

Dr Muyunda said ACTESA was committed to cementing partnerships amongst all stakeholders in order to ensure the success of the programmes being undertaken like COMRAP.

“This partnership will ensure that we are developing comprehensive agro dealers who specialise in both agricultural inputs as well as crop marketing leading to the development of sustainable agribusiness. Partnerships like COMRAP/SMART FS will allow for a sustained linkage to agro-dealers and other agribusinesses to sources of finance.”

Meanwhile, Mbewe said COMRAP activities would help build a robust regional cross-border agricultural trade agenda that would strengthen innovative market institutions and link chronically food-insecure smallholder farmers to growing national and regional markets for staple foods.

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