EAST AFRICA – The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has tabled a motion seeking for the formation of a regional body on food security and nutrition in the East African Community member states.

According to Mathias Kasamba, a member of the EALA, the motion will help fast-track formation of the institution to spearhead research, food standardisation and distribution logistics.

Integration of the regional body will is also expected to reinforce the co-operation between the six east African countries at economic and infrastructural levels among others.

Speaking during the launch of the Eastern Africa Parliamentary Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (EAPA – FSN) in Arusha in Tanzania, Mr Kasamba said that the motion will also harmonise resources in the region to ensure it becomes self-sufficient in food production.

According to him, the region has sufficient agricultural capacity and potential to meet its local demand and curtail its overreliance on some food imports such as maize, wheat and rice.

Kenya, for instance, spends about US$400 million every year on wheat importation while the bloc as a net importer of maize, wheat and rice spends over US$2 billion annually.

Chimimba Phiri, the Food and Agriculture Organisation sub-regional co-ordinator for Eastern Africa and a representative to the AU Commission and the UN Economic Commission for Africa urged countries to formulate and apply national and regional agricultural investment plans and other policies and legislative frameworks.

“Governments’ efforts to achieve a world without hunger and malnutrition by 2030 are painfully slow,” he said.

Dr Phiri noted that at least 7.1 million households in the region are expected to experience food gaps in agro-pastoral areas during the October to December rainy seasons.

According to Abdi Ali Hassan, EAPAFSN chair, failure to put food security and nutrition on national agendas, lack of streamlined polices and legislation for land tenure and access to financial resources are some of the major impediments towards achieving food security.

Addressing infrastructural challenges was also cited to potentially contribute towards enhancing food insecurity and reduction of malnutrition in the region.

Composed of six countries: Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan and Burundi, the East Africa community has an estimated population of around 140 million people.