The UKAID funded programme ‘FoodTrade East and Southern Africa (ESA)’ implemented through DAI, signed a grant contract with the independent organisation ‘Kilimo Trust’ for the amount of £ 1.3 million (US$ 2 million) on 18 September 2015. This signing took place at the FoodTrade ESA main offices in Dar es Salaam. FoodTrade ESA has engaged Kilimo Trust to implement the project “Beans Enterprises and Structured Trade” (BEST). This project will enable the Upgrading and Deepening of Beans Value Chains in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

The BEST project will focus on narrowing the gap between demand and supply through value chain business linkages based on clusters and/or consortia, with key buyers as lead firms. This demand- supply gap has not been addressed due to discrepancies in the varieties that farmers grow, and the shifts in consumer (mainly urban) demands to improved varieties. Since farmers could not access seed materials for the varieties in demand, the gap has continued to widen.

The BEST project therefore will focus on establishing trading systems that can build the confidence of large buyers such as exporters, processors and large institutions, who hesitate to depend on local smallholders for supplies. This will break the vicious cycle typical with beans, where those serving domestic markets resort to importation, while potential large exporters to global markets are reluctant to take orders from international markets for fear of failure to deliver.

FoodTrade ESA will support the identification and replication of business models for the effective upgrading and deepening of regional bean value chains. This is expected to unlock new market opportunities. Achievement of these results will contribute to the Food Trade ESA priority of improving structured markets for staples.