As East Africa strives to increase intra-regional trade, the East Africa Business Council (EABC) has said it will put emphasis on agribusiness development during its two-day forum in Dar es Salaam Tanzania next month.

The council’s chief executive, Lilian Awinja, said agro-processing, including food, beverages and tobacco, together with apparel and leather sectors, contribute almost 40% of the region’s manufactured exports, and should therefore be given attention.

She said the region needs to boost the agriculture value-chains and the transformation of agro raw materials into sustainable and highly marketable commodities which are competitive at regional and international markets.

“We need a paradigm shift from subsistence agriculture to agri-business, which offers a path to reduce food insecurity and boost regions’ competitiveness in the agricultural sector, “said Awinja.

Agriculture accounts for about 34.7% of the region’s total GDP, making it the second largest sector with more than 75% of the population reliant on it.

She said the conference is expected to attract over 400 hig-level decision makers and business leaders from the region and abroad.

The East African Business Council (EABC) is the apex advocacy body of business associations of the Private Sector and Corporates from the East African Countries.

It was established in 1997 to foster the interests of the Private Sector in the Integration process of the East African Community.

According to the World Bank, lack of access to high-yielding seeds, effective fertilizers and irrigation technologies threaten the region’s ability commercial agriculture and sustainable agribusiness development.

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