In 2012, East Africa had a deficit in corn production. This year, thanks to plenty of rain, it is expecting a surplus, according to a report in CoastWeek.
Increased corn production in Uganda and Tanzania will boost supply beyond local demand, Eastern African Grain Council Executive Director Gerald Masila told journalists in Nairobi during the launch of the fifth African Grain Trade Summit. Member states include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Ethiopia.
Kenyans consume 40 million bags of corn and produce around 28 million bags, Masila said. Imports make up for the deficit, both regionally and internationally.
“One of the ways for Kenya to achieve self-sufficiency in (corn) production is through improving average yields per acre,” he said.
Government officials, researchers and traders from 20 African countries discussed ways of improving grain trade in the region.
Some of the hurdles they must overcome include poor infrastructure. Eastern Africa’s grain trade with the rest of Africa is limited due to lack of adequate transportation, said Council Chairman Judah arap Bett.
“Eastern Africa is therefore forced to import from international global markets instead of importing from West, Southern or Northern Africa,” he said.
West Africa exports palm oil to the rest of the world, but East Africa imports the edible oil from Asia, Bett added. He urged Africans to address food insecurity by tapping into Africa’s huge tracts of uncultivated land.
Lack of financing is also holding back agricultural development, Bett said. Agribusiness is still considered a risky venture by commercial banks.
According to Bett, most of Africa’s food production is controlled by small holder farmers whose land sizes are diminishing.