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Regional trade of staple foods

Farmers harvesting maize in King'Ori, northern Tanzania. Photo: Farm Africa / Jon Spaull Farmers harvesting maize in King'Ori, northern Tanzania. Photo: Farm Africa / Jon Spaull
While Tanzania and Uganda produce a surplus of staple crops each year, Kenya only grows enough maize to feed itself one year in every five.

But until recently, high tariffs on trade within eastern Africa have meant that it has been cheaper for Kenya to import crops from outside Africa. These policies have now changed, opening up new opportunities for regional trade, and taking eastern Africa a step closer to self-sufficiency.

How does this help smallholders?

Smallholder farmers in Tanzania and Uganda could reap huge benefits from new regional markets. 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.

We helped rice, maize and beans farmers in Tanzania and Uganda overcome these problems by:

  • Storing grain in warehouses certified as meeting international standards, so that crops can be kept dry and are less susceptible to fungal infections, a common result of poor storage.
  • Helping farmers to sell their produce across borders using the innovative digital platform G-Soko and other market opportunities

Who did we work with?

With funding from the UK Government, Farm Africa worked with FoodTrade ESA, VECO East Africa, and Rural Urban Development Initiatives to reach 70,000 smallholder farmers in Tanzania and Uganda.

Regional trade has the potential to bring about long-term change in the lives of these smallholder farmers. Our work helped to forge strong links with private sector buyers for their produce, helping them to earn a more reliable income, as well as helping farmers produce bigger, better harvests in years to come through properly managed warehouses and crop storage.