Plan unveiled to propel Tanzanian grain sector

TANZANIA: THE Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC), in collaboration with TradeMark Africa (TMA), unveiled a three-year pioneering plan yesterday to propel the Tanzanian grain sector towards global export competitiveness.

The initiative project, dubbed ‘Strengthening Competitiveness in ExportOriented Staple Food Value Chains in East Africa,’ is funded by the USAID-Economic Recovery and Reform Activity (USAID-ERRA) through TMA and aims to boost regional grain trade across critical trade corridors in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Permanent Secretary, the Director of Marketing and Food Security, Mr Gungu Mabavu, commended EAGC and TMA for initiating such an important project.

He noted that the government has elevated the food system agenda to a top priority in achieving national economic development.

“Our vision is to feed ourselves and others commercially. This commitment aligns with the project’s design, which aims to address the low integration of farmers into formal trade that hampers cross-border market linkages and partnerships,” he added.

He mentioned that the government is actively involved in implementing trade protocols under the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), positioning Tanzania as the regional food basket.

The decision to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area demonstrates this commitment.

In line with this, he emphasised that the Ministry is enhancing digital capacities to reduce corruption practices, including minimising person-to-person contacts during facilitation.

Mr Mibavu also called for continued cooperation between Tanzania and the US, focusing on supporting youths and women by involving them in food systems initiatives, as they are the most vulnerable to food insecurity and poverty.

“An inclusive and empowering approach will be key to our effectiveness and sustainability,” he noted.

During his keynote address, presented on behalf of Junior Ndesanjo, Chief of Party, USAID-ERRA, Mark Priestley highlighted the strategic collaboration between EAGC and TMA to enhance grain exports across the region through innovative approaches like farmer-operated Grain Business Hubs (G-Hubs) and technology advancements to improve grain quality and stimulate trade.

Executive Director of EAGC, Gerald Masila, expressed excitement about the project’s launch, emphasising its alignment with EAGC’s mission to advocate for an enabling environment to promote structured grain trade for the benefit of stakeholders.

He emphasised the expected benefits of the project, including improved production, increased access to agricultural finance, capacity enhancement, mentorship in SPS and quality compliance, and improved trade linkages.

EAGC Country Director Michael Kitulizo highlighted EAGC’s vision to be the leading voice for the grain industry in Africa, emphasising that through the project, EAGC will enhance export-oriented market access, empower smallholder farmers with necessary skills and resources, improve firms’ export capabilities, and foster collaboration to enhance the policy environment.

The project strategically targets key interventions to transform the grain sector landscape, expand market access to increase Tanzania and Uganda’s participation in the Kenyan market, and promote regional integration, trade, and economic prosperity.

It is particularly significant given the volatility and gradual decline that have characterised the region’s trade in food commodities.

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