Regional business directory unveiled at Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) Agricultural Trade Policy meeting.

 

Nairobi, Kenya, 21st July 2016. The Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) in partnership with UK-funded FoodTrade East & Southern Africa (FoodTrade ESA) launched the G-Soko Grain Trade Business Directory on the sidelines of the fourteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 14) in Nairobi, Kenya. The Directory was launched at a workshop focused on regional dialogue on the proposed Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) between the EAC, SADC and COMESA trading blocs, hosted in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

 

Headlined by the representative of the EAC Secretary General, Mr Peter Kiguta (Director General, Customs & Trade), and CEO COMESA-ACTESA Mr Argent Chuula, the workshop provided a platform to deliberate on agricultural trade policies and food security in the proposed TFTA. Actionable policy recommendations to inform the on-going TFTA negotiations from a food trade and food security perspective were also discussed amongst policymakers, the private sector and other relevant stakeholders from the three trading blocs (EAC, SADC and COMESA). Launched in 2015, the proposed COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) promises to reinvigorate the regional integration agenda in Africa, including issues surrounding food security.

 

Speaking at the event, EAC Director General, Peter Kiguta commented that “The EAC is keen to support continued reduction in trade barriers, especially non-tariff barriers to promote intra-regional trade for regional prosperity. We call on all partners within the TFTA to support investment in infrastructure and increased cross-border investments in value addition, in order to reap the benefits offered by the expanded market within the area”.

 

The G-Soko Grain Trade Business Directory is a tool that will facilitate tripartite trade and food security in the region. The first edition of the Directory comes during the commemoration of EAGC’s 10 year anniversary. Speaking at the formal launch, EAGC Executive Director Gerald Masila said, “The G-Soko Grain Trade Business Directory showcases our decade strong desire in advocating for and facilitating an efficient, structured, inclusive and profitable grain trade in the Eastern Africa region.  Through this latest service, users of our G-Soko Grain Trading System will have a new level of transparency and information in order to better leverage the plethora of available opportunities, service and products for grain trade business in the region and across the value chain.”

 

The G-Soko Grain Trade Business Directory features detailed listings of EAGC members by sector, country and job title, whilst also providing an overview of participant business activities with regards to grains handled within the value chain. Users are also offered advertising opportunities should they wish to create greater visibility for their products. The directory also innovatively highlights what stock a particular farmer, producer or group has to offer for trade through the wider G-Soko Grain Trading System. The G-Soko Grain Trade Business Directory has been designed to address key issues flagged by sector players spanning farmers, traders, processors, millers and financial institutions which have included the need for easier and comprehensive access to relevant trade information within the grain industry.

 

FoodTrade ESA Market Systems Expert, Isaac Tallam commented, “The G-Soko platform is key to consolidating the outputs of our grantees that have targeted interventions along various points of the staple food value chains. Grantees will link their beneficiaries to the G-Soko system, integrating smallholder farmers into structured trade systems, enabling them to trade their produce seamlessly across the region. The G-Soko Grain Trade Business Directory will be key to further opening up the flow of information both on the online platform, as well as within the greater G-Soko ecosystem. By building strong links between producers and private sector grain traders along these value chains, we will support smallholder farmers to earn better livelihoods. Having better access to buyers will provide them flexibility in the sale of their produce, and incentivise them to grow higher and better quality yields.”

 

In order to increase the reach and circulation of the directory, an electronic version will be available on the EAGC website, and a mobile application will also be available.