EAC coffee, avocado exports grow amid Covid-19 hiccups

Export of coffee and avocados from the East African Community (EAC) to the Europe Union (EU) have grown by 35 percent and 7 percent respectively from 2018 and 2022.

A report provided by the EU-EAC Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP), a development initiative started to grow EAC’s agri-export trade, indicates that export of the two commodities also blossomed within the region in the four years of the program.

The report highlights the “great milestones” of MARKUP despite the covid pandemic.

“The (EAC) region was not spared the far-reaching effects of the COVID- 19 pandemic. Despite these challenges, great milestones on exports of agri-based products, including MARKUP priority value chains, were recorded,” the report reads in part.

It adds, “Extra-regional trade values, in particular exports to Europe, significantly increased for coffee and avocado.

Coffee exports to Europe grew by 35 percent and avocado exports by 7 percent compared to the baseline figures.”

Trade within the EAC also improved for the two commodities by over 50 percent during the four years of MARKUP.

Intra-EAC trade in coffee at the start of MARKUP in 2018 was $15, 454 and rose to $23,793 in 2022. Avocado exports within EAC markets in the same period grew from $442,000 to $823,000.

At $ 1,493,000, intra-regional export of avocados was at its highest in 2021 as the world recovered from the Covid-19 devastation.

Coffee exports from the EAC to the EU on the other hand grew from $488,007,000 in 2018 to $658,045,000 in 2022.

The value of avocados exported from the EAC to the EU between 2018 and 2022grew from $85,506,000 to $91,591,000.

“On the other hand, both intra-regional and external trade with tea declined,” reads the report presented during the June 14 MARKUP campaign launch.

MARKUP is a regional development initiative of the EAC and the EU that provides support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EAC.

Funded by the German government, the overall objective of activities implemented through MARKUP has been to increase the volume and value of exports, and to improve movement of the priority value chains within the EAC.

Since its launch, MARKUP has registered various achievements at policy, institutional and SME level where it has been operational – in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.

The program has reached over 30,000 farmers and business enterprises who have been trained in a range of areas including; market requirements, industry certifications, tariff and non-tariff barriers, as well as value addition.

Speaking during the launch, EAC Acting Director of Trade Flavia Busingye, said MARKUP had created numerous trade opportunities for agri-SMEs in the region.

“The campaign “MARKUP: Growing agri export markets” aims to raise awareness of the opportunities in agricultural trade, and to demonstrate that international markets are within reach of East African exporters,” she explained.

The EAC official noted that since its inception in 2018, MARKUP has generated useful resources for growth of agri-exports in the five EAC countries.

Max Middeke, Deputy Programme Manager, German Development Cooperation (GIZ) – East African Community Programme said that the campaign the MARKUP campaign comes at a time when the bulk of activities of the program are drawing to a close.

He said that the campaign is a way to take stock of the achievements of MARKUP.

“This campaign gives us the opportunity to look back on how far we have come, celebrate our joint achievements and lay strategies to tackle the challenges that still remain,” Middeke said.

The EU has lauded partner collaboration in realizing the objectives of MARKUP, noting that the program has made significant inroads in enabling farmer groups to access a wider market.

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