EPAs WILL DESTROY SMALL SCALE FARMERS’ LIVELIHOODS IN KENYA
Kipchoge Keino Stadium, Eldoret, 25th September 2010
We, members of the Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum, gathered in Eldoret to discuss agriculture and trade, reiterate our serious concerns regarding Economic Partnership Agreements that you, our government are currently being funded by the EU to negotiate with the EU.
We have experienced and suffered from the devastating effects of past liberalisation of agricultural markets under
the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) and liberalization enforced by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Liberalisation that contributed towards the loss of our cotton and sugar industries in Kenya and in the East Africaregion that reduced investment in agriculture from 10% to 3% of the government’s budget.
Right to Protect
We demand that the EU give African governments the space and the right to protect small scale farmers through the use of tariffs that do not get dismantled through a Free Trade Agreement with the EU as the Economic Partnership Agreement currently outlines. We could be faced with increased competition from the EU due to an influx of agricultural commodities such as maize, wheat, cereal, milk and milk products, rice, sugar, tomato paste, poultry, flour, meat and meat products and cotton. We are deeply concerned about the EUs ambitions to expand their markets through the opening up of our local markets.
The EU has an unfair advantage in the production of these products because agriculture is highly subsidised through their CAP compared to farmers in the East Africa region, providing about $100 billion per year to EU domestic producers. As long as such subsidises exist, dumping of cheap agricultural products into the world market will continue – one of the most harmful practices to small-scale farmers in the East Africa region. The EU is able to export sugar and beef at 44% and 47% respectively way below the internal cost of their production. Subsidies are an area that the EU has been extremely reluctant to discuss within the context of EPA negotiations.
We have seen how competition from imported EU milk powder and dairy imports threatened 600,000 small-scale dairy farmers in Kenya. This threat was successfully overcome because the government was able to raise tariffs from 35% to 60% to protect these livelihoods. Africa needs tariffs and the ability to raise and lower them to protect food security crops and infant industries - just like many EU countries did in the past when they were developing. Kenya is striving to be industrialised by 2020 and we need the tools to take us there, yet EPAs are removing the very tools for development that the EU used in the past.
Food security protection
EPAs give no guarantee that key food security crops will be protected. This is because by restricting the level of protection that can be offered under an EPA (in line with WTO rules), our negotiators are being forced to choose between the competing interests of manufacturers, government revenue, jobs and agriculture for those protected products. There is not enough policy space to protect all that Africa needs to protect from dumping of cheap EU imports into the Kenyan market that undermines agricultural livelihoods.
Food security and sovereignty
A large part of Kenya is severely affected by systemic drought that leads to food insecurity for a large number of people in rural areas. The export led model encouraged through the proposed EPA reinforces and focuses on EU export markets rather than on food production for and redistribution within the Kenyan market. This undermines the food security of the country. The EU is a large donor to Africa but this should not undermine the ability of governments to follow their own development policies. Funding from the EU should not be tied to signing of an Economic Partnership Agreement.
Ability of small scale farmers to reap any benefits of an EPA
Currently many small-scale farmers and fisher folk are unable to reap the benefits of trade with the EU. For example, we do not see any benefits from the illegal fish trawling that takes place off the coast of Kenya and exported to the EU under the Cotonou preferences. Such fishing destroys our livelihoods through over fishing, and dumping of tinned fish from offshore factories onto local markets.
Where attempts have been made to access the EU market by small-scale farmers through the export of mangoes, citruses, pigeon and cowpeas, pineapples, we have come up against SPS standards and non-tariff barriers that have prevented this crop entering the EU market. Any possible benefits offered within an EPA such as improved rules of origin, SPS requirements or investment in agro processing are unlikely to be captured by small-scale farmers, but rather by richer agribusinesses. Such changes made by the EU in rules determining their trade with ACP countries ought to take place as part of helping to make Cotonou preferences work, rather than be dependent on the sole signing of a free trade agreement.
Whilst we understand the need to retain preferences in key sectors such as flowers, vegetables and fish, the benefits of these preferences are focused on agribusinesses rather than reaching small-scale farmers. We do not believe that in order to hold onto such preferences with the EU we should be forced into exposing all our agricultural and manufacturing sectors to free trade with the EU as stipulated by WTO requirements.
Efforts should be made to support the revival and establishment of new agro processing industries and factories that ought to be near to small scale farmers, for example, the Cashew nuts, Mango, Passions, Avocadoes and Pineapple industries in this region - rather than supporting existing large scale agribusiness. However, this investment and support should not be based on signing an EPA, but rather be part of the EU’s contribution to development of this region.
Existing Regional Agreements
Furthermore, existing Free Trade Agreements such as that with COMESA and with the EAC have many difficulties, including problems of implementing tariff barriers in order to protect farmers – we are already experiencing our local markets being undermined by eggs, apples, oranges, and grapes (from South Africa), tomatoes, onions and bananas (from Tanzania), oranges (from Egypt) and sugar (from Malawi). If it is so hard to make regional free trade agreements work between developing countries it seems that it will be more impossible to make a free trade agreement work between such unequal blocks as the EU and Kenya.
We, as members of the Kenyan Small Scale Farmers’ Forum, demand that
Agreement. We demand that trade and development co-operation between the EU and Kenya must be founded on an approach that:
- The EPA negotiations in their current form must be stopped.
- Negotiations between the EU and Kenya on agriculture must be based on the interests of Kenyan small scale farmers and allow for the protection of their markets, livelihoods and local food production.
- Trade negotiations between the EU and Kenya must not go beyond what was agreed at the WTO. Investment, government procurement and competition policy should not be on the agenda in regional negotiations between EU and Kenya, since these issues have been dropped from the Doha Work Programme in the WTO.
- We instead urge the European Union to urgently support Kenya in her endeavour to find alternatives to the EPAs as part of the current review process and as provided for in the Cotonou
- is based on the principle of non-reciprocity
- allows protection of Kenyan producers’ domestic markets
- reverses the pressure for trade and investment liberalisation
- allows the necessary policy space for Kenya and supports her to pursue her own development strategies
Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum - KESSFF
24 November 2010