Wednesday, June 30, 2010

USAID's 2-year, $11.5M for food security in East Africa

Daily Nation reports on USAID's 2-year, $11.5M market linkages initiative to improve food security in East Africa

By KENNEDY SENELWA - June 29 2010

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will spend Sh920 million to support market linkages initiative (MLI) that seeks to promote trade in staple foods in East Africa.

The two-year project aims to build food security and capacity with strategic partners to open up market access for small-scale farmers in Kenya with six other nations.

Dr Candace Buzzard, head of regional economic growth and integration said the objective is to increase income by integrating smallholder farmers into national and regional markets.

She said the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) member states spend approximately $19 billion (Sh1.5 trillion) on food imports annually though only $3 billion (Sh240 billion) is produced within the region.

“In many seasons, large quantities of food are produced in the region as a whole, too much of which spoils or is otherwise wasted after harvest because farmers can’t store it or can’t find markets,” she said.

Ms Buzzard said MLI’s aim is to expand grain storage system, improve skills of farmers in post-harvest handling, strengthen market institutions and promote shared learning among stakeholders.

The Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa a specialised Comesa agency that will share good practices with governments in Kenya, Uganda, Southern Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, the Kivu region of Democratic Republic of Congo, and Malawi.

MLI project director Anthony Ngosi said $5.75 million (Sh460 million) grant will help traders and processors to upgrade storage facilities and train farmers on how to deliver staple foods that meet market standards.