Representing the East Africa Farmers Federation at the third Brussels Briefing, Philip Kiriro reminded participants of the importance of agriculture for development. In particular, attention should be put on smallholder farmers, which represent the majority of producers in East Africa.
In general, Kiriro was rather critical of the Aid for Trade agenda. This was put on the table as as offer for developing countries during the Hong Kong ministerial conference, but it lacks consultation with the private sector, and rural farmers in particular.
Furthermore, he argued, some elements of the AFT agenda are not really new: Specific trade related assistance mechanisms were already in place before, but they simply didn’t work because they were not well linked with poverty eradication. It is therefore crucial to look carefully at what already exists before making new promises and putting in place a new system.
Since he does not have very high expectations of the current Aid for Trade agenda, he suggested instead that we focus on the CAADP process, in particular on its second pillar: markets and infrastructure. Particular attention should be devoted to information systems in rural areas and regional integration projects.
In conclusion, Mr. Kiriro warned donors not to use the AFT agenda as an instrument to pressure developing countries to sign economic agreements. From their side, developing countries have to focus on their own priorities and not sign up to deals that are potentially disruptive of their economies.
See more from the 5 December briefing