By Abdallah el-Kurebe

A three-day Post-Durban Dialogue on climate change and agriculture, aimed at examining the outcome of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP 17) held in Durban in November-December 2011, has opened in Arusha, Tanzania.

Jointly organized by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); the East African Community, (EAC) in collaboration with Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS-EA) and a global programme of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR),

According to a statement, the Dialogue which brought climate change and agriculture experts from nine Eastern Africa countries of Burundi, DRC, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda together, will “focus on decisions of agriculture with a view to propose activities that would be considered under the agricultural work programme of Parties (members of UNFCCC).”

Tanzania’s Minister for Agriculture, Prof. Jumanne Abdallah Maghembe, represented by the Director General of Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI), Ms Epiphania Kimaro assured experts at the opening session of the regional governments and Economic Communities’ commitment “to respond to the impacts of climate change collectively through policy and practical measures since the impacts had no boundaries.”

The minister commended COMESA and other partners for the technical support being provided to ensure that developing countries fully benefited from negotiations.

He added that the experts dialogue is an important opportunity for member States to reflect on the outcome of the Conference with the aim of preparing how to implement specific decisions that are of priority to the region and specifically to identify key issues relating to agriculture with a view to prepare a common position for consideration by the subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) during its 36th Session schedule for May 2012.

The EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sector Mr. Jean Claude Nsengiyumva, who was represented by EAC Climate Change Coordinator, Mr. Brian Otiende informed the meeting that EAC was in the process of implementing three critical policy documents approved by the EAC Heads of State Summit in April 2011.

The policy documents include EAC Climate Policy (2011); the EAC Food Security Action Plan (2011-2015) and the Heads of States Summit Declaration on Food Security and Climate Change.

Claude reiterated that the EAC, COMESA and other strategic partners were committed to working with stakeholders in Eastern Africa with a view to developing a common position on issues related to agriculture for consideration by SBSTA and other bodies of the COP.