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Farmers’ organisations champion policy processes

March 10, 2015

CTA support to the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) has had an indirect spinoff, helping to shape new legislation for cooperatives in East Africa. 

BR AG Cooperatives Farmers at Ejo Heza Coop shelling maize before storing it in a common warehouse copy

EAFF is one of several regional farmers’ organisations that have received help from the Centre in strengthening capacities to engage in policy processes. Specifically, CTA has delivered training and other support to EAFF to help it become more involved in the policy process for the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which focuses on improving and promoting agriculture across Africa.

These skills have laid the foundation for making EAFF leaders more active in influencing policies that affect their members. 

Earlier this year, the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) passed the East African Community (EAC) Co-operative Societies Act, 2014. The new law provides a common framework for the management, regulation and transparency of cooperatives in the region and is widely expected to promote greater membership by farmers who can be confident of good governance.  

The Eastern Africa Farmers Federation played a significant role in shaping the policy at the discussion stage and helping to steer it through the legislative process through a private member bill.

“This a good example of how farmers organisations have got to the point where they are able to champion a policy process that has now become an Act,” said Oluyede Ajayi, Senior Programme Coordinator, Agricultural and Rural Development Policy at CTA. “Farmers’ organisations have come of age. They are now doing things for themselves.”

CTA has recently launched a new project to offer EAFF support to help it increase its involvement in policies affecting climate change and VAT taxes on agricultural products – two key issues for East African farmers.

Meanwhile, spurred on by its success with the cooperative legislation, EAFF is preparing a vigorous campaign to raise awareness about the new Act at regional, national and sub-national levels in all EAC partner states (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda). Once it comes into force, the Act is expected to lead to the formation of a Regional Co-operative Union, as well as the East African Co-operative Agency, whose first task will be to develop a set of rules and regulations.

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