Lilongwe: Agriculture experts in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) have this week been meeting in Lilongwe under the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (Actesa) forum to discuss the future of agriculture development for the region. The two day meeting attracted various stakeholders from within and outside the sector in the 22-member countries of the regional grouping.
Addressing the participants, Malawi's Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water development Kingsley Namakhwa said Comesa needed to invest in agricultural technology, information, regulations, human capacity and infrastructure if the region was to compete with big producers worldwide.
He said the forum gives the opportunity for the Actesa to take stock of what it has done and achieved for the past years.
Namakhwa said interventions under Comesa Regional Agro-inputs Programs such as farmers' access to financial services, agro-dealer development and seed multiplication among others are appealing to the many challenges faced by farmers.
A representative of development partners, Peter Ewell, said it was pleasing to note that Actesa is moving forward and that the new five year strategy for the alliance was approved by the Comesa Council meeting in October this year. He said donors look forward to discussing the strategy and the progress being made in putting together an implementation plan.
Ewell further said the development partners are committed to supporting the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme for Comesa and other African countries.
"The goal is to increase investment by a wide range of partners with governments, private sectors, civil society and donors around," he said.
He described Malawi as a good case study where there have been some policy programmes implemented and that lessons could be drawn form the country in terms of effectiveness and sustainability.
Actesa's Acting Chief Executive Officer Chungu Mwila said the objective of the alliance is to improve the lives of farmers and integrate them in regional and international markets. He also said the meeting will focus on the five year strategic plan which is a major document for discussion.