FoodTrade ESA Monthly Newsletter
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Rural Urban Development Initiatives - Connecting Smallholder Farmers to regional markets.

The UK government, through the FoodTrade East & Southern Africa programme, provided a grant of £3,002,040 to Farm Africa, who are working with consortium partners Rural Urban Development Initiatives (RUDI) and VredesEilanden Country Office (VECO) East Africa to link small holder farmers with surpluses to regional markets. RUDI is a Tanzanian based private sector development organisation focused on empowering micro and small enterprises (MSEs) and farming communities through improved market linkage and distribution channels for their products. The organisation is implementing activities in the SAGCOT regions of Tanzania. Mr. Abel Lyimo, Executive Director of RUDI gives us more insights into their work.

A Farmers Association located in Iringa receives equipment to support post-harvest management.
Farmers receive capacity building on post-harvest handling and access regional markets for their products. 
“One of the main benefits of the consortium model is realised when each partner brings on board their skills and experience in value chain development, resulting in better services to beneficiaries,” Mr. Lyimo explains.

“We engage with smallholder farmers through their organisations - farmer groups, farmer associations, cooperatives and apex organisations - and build their capacity to become competitive in the market place.”

A lot of opportunity exists in the regional market, and the Farm Africa Consortium Project aims to benefit 70,000 small holder farmers. However, there exist a few challenges that must be overcome in partnership with the farmers.

“One of the problems farmers face is adhering to the ‘30 ton rule’ which refers to the minimum amount smallholders need to aggregate to fill a truck and supply their produce to the East African region,” Mr. Lyimo explains. This is the minimum economic quantity that attracts buyers, makes the transaction viable for traders, and increases the bargaining power of the farmers. “To combat this, the farmers are encouraged to aggregate their crops, as well as market and sell them collectively. Through our work with Farm Africa, VECO and FoodTrade ESA, we are able to market surplus grains from Tanzania to the region, and help farmers reach their required targets.” 

Capacity building for small holder farmers is key to supporting them to meet the quality standards and quantities required to access these markets. The project aims to help both men and women to move further up the grain value chain, improving their profits. 

“The participation of women is an integral part of the Farm Africa Consortium Project. We offer training to farmer organisations on good governance and leadership. The rule of thumb is that both genders should be represented equally, in order to ensure the project benefits are realised by both men and women. This applies right from leadership positions all the way to junior employees.”

Improved post-harvest handling and storage of staple crops, and linking farmers with surpluses to new markets (including warehouses newly certified by Eastern African Grain Council) will be key to the success of the project. These warehouses will in turn be linked to the GSoko online grain trading platform, which reduces multiple levels of handling and ensures farmers get maximum profits. The GSoko platform will be key to opening up access to these new markets. The online trading platform allows farmers to sell grain through a structured mechanism.

“We train, train and train,” explains Mr. Lyimo, “we have more than four modules on quality control that highlight the East African Standards on grain. There is also a big focus on post-harvest handling and warehouse management.”

In Tanzania there has been a surplus in the production of both rice and maize over the last five years. The country produces about 1.4 million tons of rice annually but consumes only 800,000 tons, while it produces about 5 million tons of maize against an internal demand of 4 million tons. The market linkage RUDI facilitates is for surpluses that are sold outside a farmer’s immediate area; however, domestic demand is small and therefore regional trade in necessary. The consortium partners view cross-border trade as a critical solution to off-take surplus grain from Tanzania.

RUDI has invested heavily in providing technical expertise, identifying warehouses, negotiating with village and local governments to allow smallholder farmers to own and manage warehouses, rehabilitating and upgrading warehouses and equipping them with basic warehouse facilities. The organisation has a presence in ten regions within Tanzania, with qualified field staff who support the farmers at a local level. In order to ensure farmers benefit from access to market information, RUDI’s Marketing Officer collects weekly market information and shares it with their database of farmers through SMSs, as well as on information boards at the warehouse level. 
The FoodTrade ESA team took part in the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2016. FoodTrade ESA is playing a key role in addressing resilience through functional national and regional markets. 

Under the theme, “Seizing the Moment in Africa’s Agricultural Transformation”, the 6th AGRF took place in Nairobi in September. During the forum, the FoodTrade ESA Team Lead Marc van Uytvanck presented an overview of the programme’s work promoting structured trade at a breakfast hosted in partnership with the East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, themed “Intra-regional Trade and its Role in Preventing Food Crises”. Isaac Tallam, the programme's Market Systems Expert, made a panel presentation at a cross-cutting workshop on sustainability and resilience.
Overcoming obstacles to soya bean sector development. Farmer's Weekly, 9th September 2016
Daniel Njiwa, the Zambia Country representative of FoodTrade ESA had an opinion piece published in leading South African agriculture magazine “Farmer’s Weekly” which focused on overcoming obstacles to soya bean sector development. His article highlights what the Southern African Development Community (SADC) stands to gain from strengthening regional soya bean value chains. Full Story

Agri-cultured Youth. K24, 8th September 2016
Ruth Kinoti, CEO Shalem Investment Ltd participated in a panel discussion on K24’s Talk Central. The interview took place during the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) and leveraged on the forum’s sub-themes on agriculture and youth. On the panel there was also James Njuguna - Co-founder Helitech Youth Group, Simon Nyabaza - Managing Director Ifirm, and Claudius Kurtna - Managing Director Afritech. Full story

Zambia is moving forward after the inauguration of President Edgar Lungu on the 13th of September. President Lungu had already appointed more than half of his cabinet by the 15th of September including new Finance Minister, Felix Mutati. Edgar Lungu’s move to appoint a non-PF MP in the position is likely to gain him praise for moving beyond partisanship in his new administration. Felix Mutati will be tasked with implementing measures to steer the Zambian economy forward in a gloomy economic environment. Mutati is a former accountant, and has previously served as both Minister of Energy and Water Development and Minister of Trade and Industry from 2004 to 2011. President Lungu has also created a new Ministry of National Planning which will play a key role in policy coordination and long-term development planning. 

In a bid to diversify Zambia’s economy, which has been largely dependent on mining, President Lungu has also appointed Petauke MP, Dora Siliya as the new Minister of Agriculture - taking over from Given Lubinda. Ms Siliya's initial focus will be on ensuring food security at a time in which the southern African region faces a large staple food deficit, which has put pressure on Zambia's maize stocks, due to levels of high demand.

Progress in commercialising GMOs in Kenya has hit a snag after the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) directed the Ministry of Agriculture to draft a policy framework to guide implementation of GMOs in the country before trials commence. Developing this is likely to take months resulting in a delay in the implementation of National Performance Trials (NPT) by Kenya Agriculture and Livestock and Research Organisation (KALRO) and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF). These trials - which were applied for earlier this year -  are crucial before any crop variety is commercialised. Whilst the Ministry has not provided any confirmation on a halt in GMO commercialisation, they are yet to provide guidance on the issue.

A maize shortage in Kenya may have come to an end due to an increase in imports from Uganda. According to data compiled by the Regional Agricultural Trade Intelligence Network (RATIN), traders have moved more than 2,000 tonnes of maize into Kenya across the borders from Uganda. Ugandan maize is trading at Sh1,800 per 50 kg bag while the Kenyan maize retails for approximately  Sh2,500 for the same quantity. The influx of cheaper maize in the country has antagonised maize farmers in the Rift Valley maize growing areas, who fear that imported maize will destabilise the market. The farmers have therefore recently called on government to restrict entry of the Ugandan maize arguing that it could  affect their share in supplying the National Cereals and Produce Board.

The Government of Kenya says it is keen to adopt and implement COMESA seed harmonisation policies. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Kenya will join other COMESA member states in the implementation of the seed harmonisation programme. Whilst Burundi and Rwanda have already aligned their seed laws and regulations in accordance to the COMESA Seed Harmonisation Implementation Plan, Kenya is still in the process of aligning its seed laws and regulations to achieve increased seed production. The national government is currently in consultations with counties to facilitate participation of the devolved systems in COMSHIP.

Subject to stringent government terms and conditions, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries has lifted the restrictions on the export of grains from Tanzania, effective week of 19 September. The Ministry requires all traders to apply for an export permit from the office of the Permanent Secretary, attaching all required and valid trading and transport licences, as well as the traders Tax Identification Number. Sources report that the export permits are set at a cap of 350,000 tonnes per company. The Ministry strongly emphasises that no agricultural produce would be allowed to leave Tanzanian borders without a permit. This is due to the government’s plan to ensure sustainable food supply in the country, in light of the food crisis in most of the SADC region.

Parliament passed the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) Bill 2016 on 15 September. The bill is aimed at promoting crop protection and ensuring effective administration of trade, commerce and export of agricultural produce. The bill is also expected to push budget allocation for research activities to at least one percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In addition, the bill allows for the creation of TARI, an institution which will be responsible for conducting, regulating and coordinating all agricultural research activities on the Tanzanian mainland.
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