East African legislators have been urged to expedite the domestication of the Malabo Declaration by putting in place a regional legally binding protocol or instruments to ensure the realization of Malabo's goals.
Without domesticating it at the regional level, it will hinder the full implementation of the Declaration which stakeholders in the agriculture sector see as a vital protocol that can transform the agriculture sector among the East African Community (EAC) member states.
Although the EAC member states signed the Declaration, its implementation has been a big challenge since none of the member states has respected the protocol which they endorsed on their signature in Equatorial Guinea.
‘’Our government are not serious when it comes to the implementation of the Malabo Declaration; that is why the agriculture sector among the EAC member states is still underfunded,” Hakim Baliraine, the Chairperson of Eastern and Southern Africa Small-scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF).
He was speaking during the 6th East African Agriculture Summit held in Arusha Tanzania. He added: “If the protocol was implemented among the seven member states, we could be seeing big achievements in the agriculture sector’’
The summit was hosted by ESAFF and partners concurrently with the East African Civil Society Summit. The Arusha Summit was attended by various stakeholders including small-scale farmers, policymakers from various partner states, and civil society organisations.
The focus of the Summit was "Agriculture and Climate Change." Key to the discussion was the financing of the agriculture sector in the region.
It’s the agriculture financing that attracted the stakeholders to raise the matter of the Malabo Declaration. They said that although each African state is supposed to allocate 10 percent of its national budget to the agriculture sector none of them has respected the Declaration, even those in the EAC Member States.
Yet during the meeting agriculture was considered as the major sector that can transform Africa including EAC member states.
How member states are responding to the Malabo Declaration, in his presentation, Fahari Marwa, the Principle Agriculture Economist at the EAC agreed with the comments from the farmers who said that the region is not doing well to attain the commitment targets.
‘’In all the biennial reviews that were carried out in 2017, 2019 and 2021, it was discovered that the region is not on track to meet any of the Malabo Commitments. Therefore, the region needs to pay much attention to all Commitment areas if it’s to meet the Malabo Declaration by 2025,’’ Marwa explained.
The Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods is a set of new goals demonstrating a more targeted approach to achieving the agricultural vision for the African continent which is shared prosperity and improved livelihoods.
The Malabo Summit reaffirmed that agriculture should remain at the top of the continent's development agenda and is a crucial policy initiative for economic growth and poverty reduction in Africa. The African Heads of State and governments agreed to seven broad commitments.
These include upholding the principles and values of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP); enhancing investment finance in agriculture; ending hunger in Africa by 2025; halving poverty by 2025 through inclusive agricultural growth and transformation; and boosting intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services.
Statistics indicate that the EAC region is still performing poorly as meeting the Malabo Declaration Commitments is concerned. Reflecting on the third biennial review, the EAC region achieved an average overall performance score of 5.60 compared to the benchmark score of 7.28 which is the minimum score required for a region to be on track in implementing the Malabo Declaration commitments.
This shortfall indicates that in 2021, the region was not on pace to meet the Malabo commitments by 2025.