One of the key constraints to regional trade in agricultural commodities and policy development is a lack of reliable data on food production, consumption and trade flows. In the absence of valid data, policy makers are often at a loss on how to develop sound policy interventions to support food security through trade. The private sector is also disadvantaged by not having an accurate indication of supply and demand data.
To solve this, the Hub has embarked on an effort to bring together relevant East African Community (EAC) Partner State ministries to harmonize, and publish on a regular basis, production estimates of key staple foods - maize, dry beans, rice and sorghum - for the 2016/2017 season. The Hub held the first of these meetings this week at its Nairobi headquarters with participation from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
The participants spent two days sifting through production, consumption and trade data, developing a common methodology for data analysis and agreeing on a draft position of the regional food balance sheet. The draft balance sheet shows the state of food production -- surplus or deficit for the 2016/2017 period -- in the EAC. The next meeting will be in March 2017 after the EAC Partner States have done their national production assessments to update the balance sheet.
"Coming up with the commodity balance sheet will help provide the evidence needed for sound decisions on agricultural trade by government," said the Tanzania representative.
"This exercise has been very useful in helping us resolve some of the gaps in our data and will be a great contribution to policy development," said the Uganda representative.
"This workshop has come at an opportune time. The food balance sheet will enable the EAC countries better manage food security and expand trade. There is a need to continue to build the Partner States' capacities for further work in this area," said the Kenya representative.