How Farmers will benefit from the WTO Ministerial Conference #MC10Nairobi

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A farmer couple in Africa. Image from http://yenkasa-africa.amarc.org/en/node/54

Agriculture is the art and business of cultivating soil, producing crops and raising livestock. Africa in general is an agricultural based economy with many countries relying on agriculture for subsistence and as their main source of income. Kenya is among this category of African countries whose economy largely relies on agriculture compared to other sectors such as tourism, manufacturing and mining.

A farmer couple in Africa. Image from http://yenkasa-africa.amarc.org/en/node/54
A farmer couple in Africa. Image from http://yenkasa-africa.amarc.org/en/node/54

In Kenya agriculture is fundamental in economic development; it contributes 35% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and constitutes 40% of the export earnings (Source: softkenya.com). This means that our country stands to gain significantly from the positive outcomes of the World Trade Organization (WTO) 10th Ministerial Conference slated for 15-18 December 2015 at the KICC in Nairobi.

We had talked about how Africa’s Businesses will benefit from the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference and also the benefits the tourism industry will get from the conference being held in Kenya. In this article we look at the benefits to the farmers in Kenya and in the bigger picture for the farmers in Africa.

Key among the top agendas slated for discussion is agricultural development especially in the Less Developed Countries (LDCs). This is why all farmers need to watch out for the outcomes of this round because significant policies could be agreed upon that will open up greater opportunities for the local agricultural sector. Among them;

    •  Restrictive trade barriers for African countries will be eliminated, this will in turn provide LDCs with the equal opportunity and to sell their produce to ready markets across borders and especially in Europe and America.
    • There will be increased development and support for agriculture and its’ other supporting sectors such as manufacturing and retail of industrial products like fertilizer, pesticides, machinery and equipment.
    • The services of the supporting tertiary sector like banking, transport and insurance will be increased and customized to meet farmer’s needs.
    • Manufacturers will also benefit by having a wider market in which they can have an opportunity to compete on an equal platform with their fellow counterparts and sell their products.
    • Large scale farmers will enjoy export subsidies and the small scale ones will be able to supply local market without unfair competition from imported produce.
    • Production costs will be lowered thus effecting lower selling prices and further improving competitiveness with neighboring countries from which we import many basic commodities such as sugar.
    • More employment opportunities will be created when businesses expand, farmers will get better prices for their produce and the overall social-economic status of citizens will improve.
    • An increase in demand for our produce both locally and internationally will improve the quality of supply thus enhancing our competitiveness in the global market.
    • Increased and fair foreign trade will contribute in strengthening our local currency.
    • Value addition in agriculture will be adopted. This will ensure the manufacturing sector is enhanced as well as enable farmers get a high price for their produce. For instance if we start processing Coffee in Kenya and export it to Europe the way we export Tea, coffee farmers would fetch better prices for their produce compared to just exporting raw coffee beans abroad. This would also help the country earn foreign exchange and improve Kenya’s balance of trade.
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