The East African Community (EAC) plans to double its fruit and vegetable exports over the course of the next eight years, bringing its revenue to $900 million. The region expects to grow the area under fruit production by 5%, to 10 million hectares, in the 2021-2031 strategic plan, which was released late in 2021.
This plan has an eye on the global export market.
The region also expects to expand vegetable output by 5% of cultivated area, from 32.8 million hectares to 45 million hectares, with at least a 3% improvement in productivity. By 2031, intra-EAC trade in fruit and vegetable goods would have increased from $9.9 million to $25 million, if the plan is executed.
“If you look at our Strategic Plan for the years 2021 to 2031, the EAC produces a wide range of fruits and vegetables (F&V), which can be exported to regional and international markets,” said Christopher Bazivamo, the EAC deputy secretary general in charge of productive and social sectors, to The East African.
Valuable resources with huge potential
“The EAC region is endowed with a wide range of resources including land, water, favorable climate, human resources and market outlets that provide for potential food security within the region. However, food insecurity remains rampant. According to FAO statistics, more than 20 million people in the Eastern Africa region are currently food insecure and are depending on food relief,” the strategy read.
Currently, the European Union (EU) accounts for 49% of the fresh produce the EAC exports. Fruit and vegetable trade between the EAC and the EU is anticipated to be 187 000 tonnes per year, worth $455.9 million.
Vegetable exports have increased dramatically in value, from $39 million in 2005 to nearly $80 million in 2019. Beans, avocados and pineapples are the most common fruits and vegetables shipped to the EU, along with brassica vegetables, peas, pepper and leguminous vegetables.
“This sector has the potential for huge investments, and provides an economic opportunity for reducing rural poverty in the EAC,” Bazivamo added.