FoodTrade East and Southern Africa recognizes the transformative potential of agriculture and trade to improve the lives and incomes of thousands of small scale farmers, as well as strengthen food security in the region. To harness this potential and bridge the gaps that exist in the trade of staple foods in East and Southern Africa, FoodTrade ESA is investing in innovative systems to allow small-scale farmers to improve their inputs and gain access regional markets. We support the private sector, governments, and other development actors to bring small scale farmers closer to the heart of agricultural systems in East and Southern Africa.

Our mission: to catalyze lasting changes that enable efficient trade in staple foods across the region to improve the lives of farmers, suppliers, service providers, traders, retailers, and consumers.

Our vision: to unlock trade across borders and across the region to get more food to more people.

“We aim to ensure that more staple food is traded and more people benefit from participation in national and cross border value chains for staple foods.”

FoodTrade Legacy

 With the closure of the Food Trade Eastern and Southern Africa in April 2018, it is a good time to reflect on the success delivered.

The programme assisted 554,363 farmers in reaching new or improved storage and aggregation facilities – a huge factor in reducing post-harvest losses, which, for some farmers can cut annual profits by as much as half. This was in part achieved through linkages with 147 certified warehouses and to 66 village aggregation centres (VACs). 452,380 smallholders are benefiting from improved grades and standards applied to their products through improved value chain coordination. And 189,076 farmers are now accessing improved market information systems.

Linkages developed across the network of grantees working within the Farmer Aggregation Mechanism (FAM) system have further resulted in 237,530 farmers accessing improved inputs, giving smallholders a huge boost towards increasing quality and quantity of produce. Enjoying better coordination, improved agricultural practices and post-harvest handling, and quality seeds and fertilisers, participating farmers have seen an on average increase of 21% on farm gate prices. This literally puts more money in the pockets of smallholder farmers and their families, and is a great stride towards improved food security in the region.

During the past 18 months of the programme, we strengthened our focus on closing the gender gap that exists in the industry. The implementation of our gender inclusion strategy showed almost immediate results in moving women up the value chains. At programme close out, 44% of farmers benefiting from FoodTrade resources were women, and we have been incredibly pleased to see so many of our grantee partners welcome this vital aspect of our programme.

Our policy overlay has been unique to FoodTrade, and our work through Policy Advisory Forums and other individuals and bodies placed to strategically influence trade policies has reaped impressive results that are key factors in the long term sustainability of our work.

As a result, FoodTrade leaves a legacy of success by improving small holder farmer participation in staple food value chains.  Grantee initiatives have influenced other firms to do the same, through the process of adoption, thereby benefiting many people who were not directly involved in the programme.

Yet there continues to be a need for action to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers through their engagement in improved farmer aggregation mechanisms and trading systems. Further commercialisation of food production, access to finance and investment, and an improved policy framework remain as priorities; however, this must be done in a way that ensures equitable and inclusive growth.

Indeed, FoodTrade has helped launch grantees and beneficiaries on a growth trajectory and initiated systemic change necessary to achieve greater results in the future, and the journey continues. For a more detailed summary, please click here (LINK).

Message from the FoodTrade
ESA Team Leader.

Dear friends, colleagues, and partners,

I am pleased to join the FoodTrade ESA team at a very exciting and pivotal time in the life of the programme. As we enter the final year, we are focused on consolidating the gains in partnership with our grantee organisations and private sector firms that are committed to building more effective staple food trading systems. 

Our objective remains building even stronger coherence across our Challenge Fund and Development Fund grantees as we look to the future. We want to ensure that strong linkages are established with sectoral stakeholders and service providers for continuity, ensuring that activities will lead to sustainable impact. We are keen to capture and share lessons learned from the various models we have piloted and to tell our outcome-level stories that highlight impact on the small holder farmer, private sector firms, and other core partners in driving the regional trade agenda for staple foods. 

The G-SOKO trading platform which we funded and developed in partnership with the Eastern Africa Grain Council and other partners, remains critical to consolidating our efforts in promoting staple food trade in East Africa. Addressing the barriers to free flow of food across borders, promoting the adoption of food standards with countries, and unlocking private sector investment in staple food value chains will complement broader efforts to improve regional trade. Our foundational work in this first phase of the programme is catalytic in ensuring that small holder farmers, traders and consumers continue to benefit from better coordinated and more efficient value chains.

I look forward to engaging with you in accelerating staple food trade across the region.

Steve Orr, Team Leader of FoodTrade ESA

Please feel free to send us any comments, suggestions or requests concerning FoodTrade ESA and our activities to

Regional Approach.

FoodTrade East and Southern Africa operates in nine countries: Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Food production and marketing systems throughout East and Southern Africa are performing way below their optimal levels. A wide range of barriers to trade have resulted in the fragmentation of markets for both agricultural products and their inputs. This has led to a high level of price volatility and contributed to food insecurity. These problems extend further down the value chain to key inputs and services that food systems need. Using the pioneering ‘making markets work for the poor’ approach, FoodTrade ESA will look at the ESA region as potentially one market system, and facilitate changes within the sub-market systems to contribute to effective functioning of the entire ESA staple food market structure.

“Put simply, FoodTrade ESA will take a systemic approach to addressing intra-regional trade challenges in East and Southern Africa.”

Our People

Our Focus


FoodTrade ESA’s biggest outcome will be contributing to price stability for staple foods in the region through our work aimed at stabilizing markets and strengthening Food Security. We aim to directly impact over 400,000 households. The interventions we support are structured to unlock trade across borders and across the region in order to get more food to more people at an affordable and consistent price. We encourage our partners and grantees to demonstrate evidence of support to vulnerable groups including women and youth, in order to move them up the value chains and encourage their participation in production, trading and processing. Our market systems approach will help promote collaboration between farmer organizations, input suppliers, agriculture extension service providers, credit providers and other service providers across the region, in order to increase the quantity and quality of production and trade in staple foods, and protect small scale farmers from inherent risks.

How we aim to achieve change

FoodTrade ESA identifies and addresses major market and public sector gaps and failures that hinder staple food trade and limit farmers’ capacity to produce and market more staple foods. The programme facilitates interventions that achieve FoodTrade ESA’s overall outcome: getting more staple food traded, and having more people benefit from participation in national and cross-border staple food value chains.

“We aim to increase the availability of staple foods and build the resilience of small scale farmers by influencing systemic change across the region. We do this by supporting initiatives that improve input supply, extension and financial services, as well as provide innovative solutions to store, market and sell farm produce.”

How We Work

Our Challenge Fund is set up to stimulate innovative business models that deliver commercial benefits and solutions to market failures. Benefits include delivering jobs, as well as growing incomes and market access for the poor and smallholder farmers.

Our Development Fund is structured to help facilitate dialogue & action around key barriers in regional staple food markets. We fund targeted interventions to strengthen these markets, and provide support to non-profits, agencies, NGOs. 

Our Partners

Behind the Numbers

Our Stories & Blog

News & Announcements


2704, 2018

Progressing Beyond the Expected

By | April 27th, 2018|Categories: Our Blog, Our Stories|0 Comments

By James Naughton With the imminent closure of the DAI-lead Food Trade Eastern and Southern Africa (FoodTrade ESA) programme (funded by DFID), it is a good time to reflect on the story of FoodTrade ESA, [...]

2212, 2017

Creating market opportunities for bean farmers in Southern Tanzania

By | December 22nd, 2017|Categories: Our Blog, Our Stories|0 Comments

Now in its fifth year, the UK government funded FoodTrade East and Southern Africa (FTESA) programme has disbursed 20 grants across nine African countries to the private sector and relevant institutions focused on building the [...]

1512, 2017

Building effective staple food trading systems in the region

By | December 15th, 2017|Categories: Our Blog|0 Comments

FoodTrade ESA’s Team Lead, Steve Orr, recently had an interview with The Exchange, a weekly newspaper in Tanzania, to shed light on the FoodTrade ESA programme and the importance of building more effective staple food [...]

1512, 2017

Successful Hybrid Rice Demonstrations held in Mwea, Kenya

By | December 15th, 2017|Categories: Our Blog, Our Stories|0 Comments

FoodTrade ESA grantee Afritec Seeds Ltd. is implementing a project that is taking hybrid rice technology from the research farms of Hybrids East Africa Ltd. and putting it into the hands of small farmers around [...]

1409, 2017

Quality Declared Seed (QDS) producers Supported to market their Seed during the Nane Nane Agricultural show in Bukoba

By | September 14th, 2017|Categories: Our Blog|0 Comments

Nane Nane is an agricultural show which takes place every year in the month of August in the North zone, Lake zone, Southern highland, Central and Western zones in Tanzania. In Kagera region, this event [...]

709, 2017

How improved value chain coordination is benefitting women in Southern Tanzania – Zinduka women’s group

By | September 7th, 2017|Categories: Our Blog|0 Comments

Women represent 43% of the labor force in the agricultural sector, and the figure rises to 70% in some countries. Implementation of the FoodTrade ESA Gender Action Plan has seen projects adopt approaches that seek [...]

1611, 2017

Women seizing opportunities in agriculture to improve communities in the southern corridor

By | November 16th, 2017|Categories: News|0 Comments

  An empowered woman is a productive woman. In Africa, women play a large role in agriculture, with female labour in Tanzania’s sector pegged at slightly above 50%. Women in the southern corridor of Tanzania, [...]

1611, 2017

The Southern Africa Grain Network (SAGNET): Promoting a coherent grain trade environment for prosperity

By | November 16th, 2017|Categories: News|0 Comments

  Well-functioning grain value chains, operating with a stable policy environment, are essential for food security and livelihood creation in the greater East & Southern Africa regions. On average, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) [...]

711, 2017

The Southern African Grain Network (SAGNET) lends its support to SADC governments to help them develop vibrant grain trade environments.

By | November 7th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , |0 Comments

  The SADC region has great food production potential with the capacity to feed itself. Governments need to work closely with the private sector to address common challenges affecting the grain value chain and ensure [...]

805, 2017

FoodTrade ESA Monthly Newsletter – March 2017

By | May 8th, 2017|Categories: News, Our Stories|1 Comment

In the month of March, FoodTrade ESA Programme joins the world in celebrating International Women's Day - Miles in women empowerment.  Established to commemorate the movement for women's rights, the day is an important platform [...]

805, 2017

FoodTrade ESA Monthly Newsletter – April 2017.

By | May 8th, 2017|Categories: News, Our Stories|0 Comments

April’s newsletter edition highlights some of the outcome achievements already being realised in the implementation of the programme. Read more […]

703, 2017

FoodTrade ESA Monthly Newsletter February 2017.

By | March 7th, 2017|Categories: News, Our Stories|1 Comment

Read about the regional updates in staple food trade in this month’s FoodTrade ESA monthly  newsletter here   .