Tuesday 21 June, 2016. Today we are officially launching our new consortium project: Linking smallholders in Tanzania and Uganda with staple food surpluses to regional markets across East Africa.

Markets have been one of the major challenges facing smallholder farmers in East Africa. In some cases when these farmers managed to access the markets their produce don’t meet required standards for sell. Many farmers don’t have links with high-value buyers, and instead are forced to sell at the farm gate – and without well-managed warehouses to safely store crops, they often have little to sell.
In Tanzania, nearly 40% of grains are lost to poor storage and extreme weather every year, costing the nation $332 million and stopping grain farmers from profiting from their crop sales.
Therefore this project will improve smallholders’ post-harvest handling, help them meet East African standards for storage management and link them to new markets for their surpluses of maize, rice and beans.

Farm Africa has received a new £3 million grant from the UK Government to partner with FoodTrade ESA. This grant will help 70,000 smallholder grain farmers in Tanzania and Uganda to export their crops by linking them directly to regional buyers in eastern Africa using the innovative new online trading platform G-Soko* and other market opportunities.

While Tanzania and Uganda produce a surplus of staple foods, Kenya only grows enough maize to feed itself one year in every five. Until recently, high tariffs on trade within eastern Africa have meant that in Kenya importing crops from outside Africa has been cheaper, but recent policy developments have removed barriers to regional trade.

The opening up of trade within eastern Africa is a significant step forward for food security in the region and creates important opportunities for smallholder farmers in Tanzania and Uganda to access new markets and grow their incomes.**

To help farmers capitalise on these opportunities, Farm Africa and consortium partners VECO East Africa and Rural Urban Development Initiatives will help Tanzanian and Ugandan smallholders to store their surpluses of rice, maize and beans in local aggregation centres linked to warehouses certified as meeting international standards by the East African Grain Council and sell their produce to buyers across the region.

The certified warehouses will be moisture-controlled to reduce the incidence of fungal infections that are common when grain isn’t properly dried and that can lead to whole harvests being condemned.

Smallholders grow around 80-90% of the staple crops consumed in eastern Africa but many face difficulties accessing markets. Bigger businesses aren’t interested in purchasing produce from individual farmers growing small amounts. Small scale farmers are also disadvantaged by the relatively high cost of inputs such as improved seeds and fertilisers and many have nowhere to store their produce so are unable to wait for a better market price for their crops.

Farm Africa and its partners will address these challenges by enabling smallholder farming cooperatives to come together to sell their grain collectively and build strong ongoing links with private sector grain traders. These links will not only help farmers to earn a better wage, but having better access to buyers will incentivise them to grow bigger surpluses and so improve food security in eastern Africa as a whole.

Farm Africa’s support to farmers to improve post-harvest practices, access post-harvest technology and improve storage practices and facilities will increase the amount of produce available for sale, help ensure produce meets the required standards and enable farmers to sell outside peak harvest season, contributing towards increased volumes traded and higher prices received by farmers.

“FoodTrade East & Southern Africa is a five-year trade enhancement and promotion programme funded by the UK government. By supporting development partners such as Farm Africa, we aim to promote appropriate business models that will enhance trade in staple foods across the region,” explained Marc Van Uytvanck, DAI – FoodTrade East & Southern Africa team leader. “The GBP 3 million grant provided to the consortium of NGOs (Farm Africa, VECO and RUDI) for this project will allow small holder farmers to access regional markets and guarantee the quality of produce available to value chain actors, including traders, by linking village aggregation centers to EAGC certified warehouses, and ultimately allowing them to feed into the G-Soko system. This will help secure the income and livelihoods of thousands of small holder farmers, while promoting structured trade in staple foods.”
Steve Ball, country director for Farm Africa Tanzania, says: “By incentivising farmers to grow bigger surpluses and making regional trade easy and affordable, this project will help lift tens of thousands of grain farmers in Tanzania and Uganda out of poverty as well as taking eastern Africa a step closer to agricultural self-sufficiency.”

-Ends-

Notes to Editor:

*G-Soko is an online market transaction platform that is designed to assist farmers in eastern Africa by enhancing food trade across country borders, making it more effective, transparent and inclusive. The platform integrates the entire grain trade from farm to market and incorporates a collection of apps that allow users to manage inventory, trade produce and request bank loans. Through G-Soko, farmers are able to aggregate their harvest through a certified warehouse and access financial services using their grain as collateral. The platform also provides an app for payments of services and farmer’s data collection.

**Regional grain trade is already providing an alternative to food aid in Malawi following a recent drought.

For more information please contact: Tara Carey, Farm Africa Media Relations Manager at tarac@farmafrica.org ; +44 (0)20 7841 5156 ; +44 (0)7971 556 340.

About Farm Africa:

Farm Africa reduces poverty by unleashing the ability of farmers across eastern Africa to grow their incomes in an environmentally sustainable way. We apply a practical approach to development, providing inputs, tools and expertise to enable farmers to double or triple their yields. We also help them to become more resilient to the effects of climate change, and to access markets so they can increase their income and build sustainable businesses.

With more than 30 years’ experience on the ground in rural Africa and 170 local staff, Farm Africa has a unique ability to spark change. For more information please visit www.farmafrica.org or follow us on Twitter @FarmAfrica .

About FoodTrade East & Southern Africa:

FoodTrade Eastern & Southern Africa (ESA) is a five-year trade enhancement and promotion programme funded by the UK Government with a focus on staple food crops. The programme uses investment tools to meet its objectives: The Challenge Fund (CF) and The Development Fund (DF). The DF is used to facilitate dialogue and action around the key barriers to the development of regional staple food markets and to fund targeted interventions that strengthen these markets. Through the DF, FoodTrade works with grantees like Farm Africa to improve storage, inputs and service markets, information and coordination mechanisms as well as policy and regulation, with the aim to get more people trading in regional staple food markets. These activities feed into one of the programme’s priority areas: supporting the creation of structured grain markets in East and Southern Africa.