News CBC News
Date Modified: 16/02/2017 01:14:25
Agriculture is an important sector in the COMESA region with over 60 percent of the population depending on the sector for their livelihoods and employment. The sector’s contribution to employment ranges from a low of 5 percent of the economically active in Libya to a high of over 90 percent in Rwanda. This notwithstanding, agriculture potential in the COMESA region remains under-exploited due to less mechanized production, infrastructure challenges and dependency on rain-fed agriculture. This negatively affects the economic significance of agriculture, leading to food insecurity and slow development of the sector in the region. According to the COMESA Agriculture Report 2015, generally agriculture in the region is characterized by low agricultural productivity whereby yields of most crops in the member countries are below world averages. The crops on which the majority of the population in COMESA depend for food and incomes have very low yields e.g. maize was only 35% of the world average in 2015. Further, per capita production has declined in COMESA over the last 30 years for most crops, except soybeans, potatoes, tea and wheat, yet these are not the most important crops in terms of providing food or cash income for most people in the region. Notably, the per capita production of key staples such as cassava, banana, and yams declined with the same scenario being experienced for key cash crops including tobacco and coffee.