Following its inception phase, FoodTrade ESA has focused extensively on maize markets because of maize’s important food security role as the most consumed and most traded staple food in ESA. Maize is also influential to the trade of other staples, which follow the maize trade corridor. By targeting and facilitating trade along priority maize corridors, FoodTrade ESA promotes the development of value chains and trade in other staples, particularly soya, legumes/beans and rice.
By aligning its Challenge and Development Funds, FoodTrade ESA has been able to take advantage of opportunities for systemic change at scale and has made investments in some key initiatives to influence change. One major initiative is G-Soko (Grains Market), a regional automated grain market platform initiative that is being piloted in the East African maize market shed. The Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC), a private membership organization based in Nairobi, is the strategic partner that leads G-Soko in collaboration with other FoodTrade ESA grantees. FoodTrade ESA’s investment in G-Soko leverages the markets systems development approach that builds the underlying structures that connect small farmers to aggregators to warehouses to generate the volumes required for commodity exchanges.
Two other important thematic areas of focus of FoodTrade ESA’s 2015 strategy are:
- Unlocking regional input trade particularly seeds through implementation of COMESA harmonised seed standards for ESA and
- Promoting the development of the regional soy value chain.