ZAMBIA – The Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) says COMESA countries are importing food worth more than US$30 billion annually.

ACTESA chief executive officer Argent Chuulu said this is worrying because the region has potential to grow all the food it needs and have surplus for export.

Mr Chuula said this is why trade is being harmonised among COMESA countries to enhance agricultural trade in the region.

“We need to scale up agriculture productivity to enhance food security in the region. We can’t be importing so much food when we have the potential to grow it,” he said.

Mr Chuula, however, pointed out that more has to be done in the region to ensure that agriculture productivity is increased to sustain the population that is growing at a fast rate.

He also noted that due to poor rainfall experienced last year, most counties in the region had a poor harvest.

“Very few countries managed to have good harvest and among them are Zambia and Tanzania, while the rest of the countries in COMESA had a deficit,” Chuula said.

And COMESA assistant secretary Kipyego Cheluget  observed that despite Africa having 60 percent of arable land, crop productivity is low, with average grain yields of less than 1.5 tonnes per hectare, against the global available of five tonnes per hectare.

“With the global population of the world at 10 billion, with 1.3 billion living in Africa, this should be an opportunity for us to use the harmonised COMESA trade regulations to increase food production,” Dr Cheluget said.

November 20, 2015;