Kenya and DR Congo sign bilateral cooperation in the agricultural sector

Nairobi — In April 2021, President Uhuru Kenyatta and HE President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo held bilateral talks in Kinshasa, Congo. At the event, the two countries signed a defense agreement and held technical consultations on ways to join forces to strengthen the food security of both countries. Food security remains one of the main pillars of President Kenyatta’s Big 4 agenda.

This was followed by a trade mission to the DRC by a delegation from Kenya. The delegation was made up of a group from the Ministry of Commerce, members of the business community and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives.

The purpose of this meeting was to map opportunities for bilateral trade, investment and opportunities in trade and agriculture. This mission opened fruitful bilateral technical consultations between the two countries, with Kenya represented by Agriculture CAS, Ms. Anne Nyaga, and DRC represented by the Special Envoy of the President, HE Prof. Serge Tshibangu.

With the DRC being a net food importer and Kenya seeking a market for its products, the two countries had the opportunity to forge a mutually beneficial relationship. The DRC has a predominantly mining mindset among its people, and there is an opportunity where Kenya can contribute its expertise and shift the mindset towards food production as well.

These talks finally led to the signing of a bilateral cooperation agreement in the agricultural sector between the two countries. The agreement was signed today at State House, Nairobi. Present at the signing were the Heads of State of the two countries, HE President Uhuru Kenyatta and HE President Felix Tshisekedi.

Also present were DRC Agriculture Minister Mzinga Birihanze Desire, his counterpart Bokele Djema Adrien (Fisheries and Livestock), and Cabinet Secretary Rachel Omamo, there to represent CS Agriculture Peter Munya. Also present at the signing Agriculture CAS, Ms. Anne Nyaga, Special Envoy to the President of the DRC, Prof. Serge Tshibangu, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Amb. Macharia Kamau and the Kenyan Ambassador to the DRC, George Masafu.

During the ceremony, the DRC also signed the Treaty of Accession to the East African Community. They join Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Burundi and Rwanda to form one of Africa’s largest economic blocs. Their membership will increase bilateral trade between the DRC and other member states and allow the free movement of goods, services and people.

Among the elements of the agreement, Kenya would help the DRC create and implement youth programs to encourage children at a young age to learn and understand the culture of food production. These include concepts similar to Kenya’s 4-K clubs, now active in Kenyan primary schools.

Other areas of cooperation between the two countries include crop development and promotion and livestock research. The two countries also agreed to strengthen their cooperative development and the development of aquaculture, fisheries and the blue economy.

The countries pledged to share joint ventures and investments for mutual benefit, market and trade agricultural products, share agricultural engineering services, and create value addition and agribusiness.

Lana T. Arthur