Smallholder Farmers to Benefit from Online Trading Platform

farmerThe Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) has launched the G-Soko Platform which is an online trading platform that links smallholder farmers to grain buyers through a networked and structured market mechanism.

The platform was launched at a ceremony held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nairobi and was officiated by the East African Community’s Secretary General, Richard Sezibera. Notable regional and international stakeholders graced the occasion key among them being, The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Department for International Development (DFID) FoodTrade ESA and The British High Commission.

The G-Soko platform is developed by the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) in partnership with FoodTrade Eastern and Southern Africa, and Virtual City, a leading mobile software solutions firm supporting the supply chain and agribusiness industry in Africa. This is through a 5-year trade enhancement and promotion programme that aims to encourage trading in regional staple food markets.

The UK through DFID Africa Regional Department has invested £35 million (Kes 6 billion) in the Food Trade Eastern and Southern Africa programme to stimulate the regional grains market through partnerships with private companies and policy influencing.

“Right now there is urgency to expand regional food trade due to the exponential growth of staple food imports. Linking rural food surplus production zones in Eastern Africa to major deficit urban consumption centres requires a well-functioning regional market. We wanted to address this deficiency but also do it in a way that is inclusive and effective. This is why we developed G-Soko; a market transaction platform that will enhance food trade across borders, and contribute towards making trading more transparent,” Mr. Gerald Masila, Executive Director of EAGC said.

The platform performs a structured trade function that integrates the entire grain trade from farm to market. Through G-Soko, farmers are able to aggregate their produce through a certified warehouse and also access financial services using their grains as collateral. For the first time, grain farmers in the region including Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania will now be able to trade their grain free, competitively and transparently across the region, through the G-Soko Platform.

Reiterating the technical capabilities of the platform and its role as a solution-provider, Virtual City Managing Director, John Waibochi noted that, “The model addresses the challenge of funds inadequacy by devising affordable export/import financing modalities. It creates synergies from the small scale farmers to the bulk buyers based on tested market structures. This system also enhances traceability of grains. Its Grain Bulking feature allows farmers to consolidate and sell their grains at aggregation centers linked with certified warehouses. More importantly, G-Soko will Increase the utilization of East African standards for grain commodities and products because quality assurance is key.”

Speaking at the event Marc Van Uytvanck, Team Leader of FoodTrade ESA said that, ”FoodTrade is proud to be associated with the East Africa Grain Council and its G-Soko Project that unlocks trade for smallholder farmers through a private sector-driven market platform that will link buyers and sellers in staple foods in Eastern Africa against spot market condition. The platform will provide farmers utilizing the certified warehouses to access local financing from participating banks for inputs; will increase production and create surpluses; and accelerate the utilization of grades and standards for grains and beans.”

The East Africa Community (EAC) also put its weight behind the G-Soko platform reinstating its commitment to develop sustainable structures in Grain Trade.

Mr. Jean Baptiste Havugimana, Director Productive Sectors, speaking on behalf of the Secretary General, Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera, noted that the G-Soko Platform, was instrumental in driving regional integration and Trade, while assuring quality grades and standards for economic growth. “The EAC is committed to working with the Eastern Africa Grain Council and its regional partners in regional economic growth and support to regional trade within the EAC member states. As a private sector partner, we believe G-SOKO, will provide a wider grain market for all the countries in the region. Farmers from the member states can now trade freely as part of the common market protocol, through this partnership.”

A pilot project in Kenya that ran prior to the official launch attracted 10 warehouses and 5 banks, setting the pace for an optimistic gradual scaling throughout the Eastern Africa region. The event culminated into an exhibition where participants logged onto various workstations and were able to test out G-Soko’s features.

Source: Corporate -Digest

G-Soko: Has East Africa finally found a solution to excessive importation?

Kenyan-based I.T firm – Virtual City in partnership with Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) and Food Trade Eastern and Southern Africa Organization recently took steps to ensure a seamless and fast distribution of grain food item in East African countries by launching an ‘agri-tech’ portal called G-Soko, which connects farmers with grain buyers easily and promptly through the automation agricultural crop trading.

agritech

For a while now, countries like Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya have continued to witness an exponential increase in the importation of staple food item, a development that has put the country and local farmers at an economic disadvantage.

Several measures have been taken to protect local producers of food items; one of which is the hike of import duty on rice to 35%. 

Countries like Tanzania, whose economy depends heavily on agriculture (for Tanzania, agriculture accounts for more than 25 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), provides 85 percent of exports, and employs 80 percent of the workforce) can’t wait for G-Soko to be operational in their countries.

According to Mr. Gerald Masila who is the Executive Director of EAGC, the need for G-Soko arose out of the urgency to expand regional food trade across East African countries in an attempt to check the exponential growth of staple food import.

At the launch, Mr. Masila revealed that G-Soko is part of a five-year trade development and promotion programme in the region. In his view, linking rural food production zones in East Africa to urban consumption centres is germane to nip excessive importation in the bud, and that is exactly what G-Soko has come to provide.

masila

Gerald Masila, Executive Director, EAGC

G-Soko began in Kenya as a pilot project prior to the official launch. During this pilot stage, it attracted the attention of 10 warehouses and 5 banks, an indication of its viability.

G-Soko will not only enable farmers market their produce to would-be buyers in the region at favorable prices, it will facilitate food trade across borders and farmers can also seek financial help by using their grains as collateral on the platform.

Millers will also benefit from this platform through access to quality stocks; standardized and proven grading thus reducing the need to carry out sampling to check quality. Other benefits to farmers include the Grain Bulking System (allows farmers to sell at aggregation centres), reduced post-harvest losses through access to professional storage, cleaning, drying, and improved prices.

However, much as it augurs good for the farmers who have always had to queue endlessly to sell their produce to the Government even without the assurance of it being bought, a major challenge will be sensitizing farmers on how to use the portal.

The G-Soko is now operational in two of the EAC Partner States; Uganda and Kenya with measures underway to extend the system to Tanzania and Rwanda before the Grains Farmers Summit scheduled to take place in Rwanda in early October 2015.

G-Soko joins the league of other innovative ideas like MPESA coming from East Africa in an attempt at using entrepreneurial ingenuity to cater and simplify everyday living.

EAGC- G-Soko Grain Trade Business Directory Launch

The East African Grain Council in conjunction with the G-Soko Platform will be launching a Grain Trade Business Directory on Wednesday 20th July 2017.

The Launch which will be happening at the Sidelines of the UNCTAD meeting being held here in Kenya for the 1st Time comes as EAGC marks their 10th anniversary,  celebrating 10 years of achievements in advocating for and facilitating an efficient, structured, inclusive and profitable grain trade in the Eastern Africa region and emerging  a decade stronger.

The Grain Trade Business Directory is yet another service from the Eastern Africa Grain Council, primarily for members, and other interested stakeholders which is inspired by the development and launch of the EAGC – GSoko Grain Trading System and significantly informed by dire need for business contacts.

Over the years, East African Grain Council has been facilitating trade under the GSoko Business to Business (B2B) forums, and this has necessitated publication of comprehensive and relevant Trade information to the Grain stakeholders and other interested people. The directory features a listing of EAGC members by sector, by country – producers, traders, processors and also the Affiliate and Associate membership categories.

The directory also provides details of the names of the organizations, key contact persons and contact addresses as well as a mention of the various business activities and grains/cereals handled within the value chains and what a particular firm or farmer, producer or group has to offer for trade through GSoko. It also offers advertising opportunity for the members and stakeholders to advertise and create visibility for their products.

The circulation of this Directory is targeted to the core industry players who require the information and the contacts contained herein. In order to increase the reach and circulation, an electronic version will be available through the various EAGC websites. EAGC will also launch a mobile based version of the directory through a mobile app for wider promotion and advertising.

The Directory is a support service to complement the GSoko Grain Trading System, and will go a long way in informing the users of GSoko – buyers and sellers of grains and related products and services –about the available opportunities, service and products for grain trade business in the region.

GSoko services include warehouse certification, automation of the certified warehouses to electronically receive, grade, standardize and warehouse the deposited commodities, issue electronic G-Notes to grain depositors, issue of credit using the G-Note as security, purchase of farm inputs, provision of an online trade platform for buying and selling of warehoused grains, a clearing and settlement system, release and delivery as well as a dispute resolution mechanism.

G-Soko Grain Trading System has been designed to address the needs of the sector players across the value chain including farmers – majority of who are smallholders, grain traders, grain processors/millers and other service providers including financial institutions, inspection agencies as well as suppliers of grain handling and processing equipment.

Source: Soko Directory

The Eastern African Grain Council and FoodTrade East & Southern Africa Launch the G-Soko Grain Trade Business Directory

Regional business directory unveiled at Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) Agricultural Trade Policy meeting

Nairobi, Kenya, 20th July 2016. The Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) in partnership with UK-funded FoodTrade East & Southern Africa (FoodTrade ESA) launched the G-Soko Grain Trade Business Directory on the sidelines of the fourteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 14) in Nairobi, Kenya. The Directory was launched at a workshop focused on regional dialogue on the proposed Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) between the EAC, SADC and COMESA trading blocs, hosted in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Headlined by the Representative of the EAC Secretary General, Mr Peter Kiguta (Director General, Customs & Trade), and his counterpart from the COMESA/ACTESA Secretariat, Mr. Argent Chuula, the workshop provided a platform to deliberate on agricultural trade policies and food security in the proposed TFTA. Actionable policy recommendations to inform the on-going TFTA negotiations from a food trade and food security perspective were also discussed amongst policymakers, the private sector and other relevant stakeholders from the three trading blocs (EAC, SADC and COMESA). Launched in 2015, the proposed COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) promises to reinvigorate the regional integration agenda in Africa, including issues surrounding food security.

Speaking at the event, EAC Director General, Peter Kiguta commented that “The EAC is keen to support continued reduction in trade barriers, especially non-tariff barriers to promote intra-regional trade for regional prosperity. We call on all partners within the TFTA to support investment in infrastructure and increased cross-border investments in value addition, in order to reap the benefits offered by the expanded market within the area”.

The G-Soko Grain Trade Business Directory is a tool that will facilitate tripartite trade and food security in the region. The first edition of the Directory comes during the commemoration of EAGC’s 10 year anniversary.

Speaking at the formal launch, EAGC Executive Director Gerald Masila said, “The G-Soko Grain Trade Business Directory showcases our decade strong desire in advocating for and facilitating an efficient, structured, inclusive and profitable grain trade in the Eastern Africa region.  Through this latest service, users of our G-Soko Grain Trading System will have a new level of transparency and information in order to better leverage the plethora of available opportunities, service and products for grain trade business in the region and across the value chain.”

The G-Soko Grain Trade Business Directory features detailed listings of EAGC members by sector, country and job title, whilst also providing an overview of participant business activities with regards to grains handled within the value chain. Users are also offered advertising opportunities should they wish to create greater visibility for their products. The directory also innovatively highlights what stock a particular farmer, producer or group has to offer for trade through the wider G-Soko Grain Trading System. The G-Soko Grain Trade Business Directory has been designed to address key issues flagged by sector players spanning farmers, traders, processors, millers and financial institutions which have included the need for easier and comprehensive access to relevant trade information within the grain industry.

FoodTrade ESA Market Systems Expert, Isaac Tallam commented, “The G-Soko platform is key to consolidating the outputs of our grantees that have targeted interventions along various points of the staple food value chains. Grantees will link their beneficiaries to the G-Soko system, integrating smallholder farmers into structured trade systems, enabling them to trade their produce seamlessly across the region. The G-Soko Grain Trade Business Directory will be key to further opening up the flow of information both on the online platform, as well as within the greater G-Soko ecosystem. By building strong links between producers and private sector grain traders along these value chains, we will support smallholder farmers to earn better livelihoods. Having better access to buyers will provide them flexibility in the sale of their produce, and incentivise them to grow higher and better quality yields.”

In order to increase the reach and circulation of the directory, an electronic version will be available on the EAGC website, and a mobile application will also be available.

…….ENDS……

About Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC)

The Eastern Africa Grain Council is a regional organization with membership drawn from across the Eastern and Southern Africa. Membership is drawn from grain value chain stakeholders currently with presence in 10 countries across Africa including Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, South Sudan, DRC Congo and Ethiopia.  EAGC’s key products and services include promotion of structured trading system (STS) through the warehouse receipting systems (WRS), and Regional Grain Trading platform   (G-Soko), Market Information Systems (MIS) offered through the Regional Agricultural Trade Intelligence Network (RATIN- (www.ratin.net) and evidence-based Policy Advocacy and  Training and Capacity Building through the Eastern Africa Grain Institute (EAGI). Please visit www.eagc.org , www.ratin.net for more information.

 

About FoodTrade East & Southern Africa 

FoodTrade East and Southern Africa (www.foodtradeesa.com) is a 5 year trade enhancement and promotion programme focusing on staple food crops. Funded by the UK Government and managed by Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), FoodTrade ESA operates in nine East and Southern African countries of Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi. The programme works with private sector and relevant institutions to improve storage, inputs and service markets, information and coordination mechanisms and policy and regulation with the aim to get more people trading in regional staple food markets.

Notes to Editor:

About the G-Soko Trading Platform.

The G-Soko system was developed by FoodTrade ESA grantee, the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC), who worked with industry stakeholders. G-Soko is a private sector-driven, market platform. The online grain trading platform will link buyers and sellers in staple foods trade in Eastern Africa. It will also unlock access to finance, by allowing farmers to use warehouse receipts as collateral. Warehouses and traders will be guaranteed of grain quality, and will be able to manage their inventory and plan ahead. EAGC certified warehouses will be moisture-controlled to reduce the incidence of fungal infections.

Jacinta Mwau jmwau@eagc.org +254 726 670 822

Grain Stakeholders to benefit from the new grain trading system

Regional trade made more transparent and effective for farmers in East Africa

Nairobi, July 31, 2015. The Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) today launched the G-Soko System – an electronic grain trading mechanism that links smallholder farmers to grain buyers across East Africa while at the same time integrating participating banks for settlement and clearing and trading houses (grain buyers/millers) all regulated and administered by EAGC, under the law of contract and operating under defined set of protocols, procedures, rules and regulations.  Richard Sezibera, Secretary-General of the East African Community, launched the platform at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nairobi, which was also attended by notable regional and international stakeholders including the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, the National Treasury, DFID, and the British High Commission.

The G-Soko System is developed in partnership with the DFID funded Food Trade Eastern and Southern Africa , which is a 5-year trade enhancement and promotion programme that aims to encourage trading in regional staple food markets. Commenting during the unveiling ceremony, Mr. Gerald Masila, Executive Director of EAGC said, “Right now there is urgency to expand regional food trade due to the exponential growth of staple food imports. Linking rural food surplus production zones in Eastern Africa to major deficit urban consumption centres requires a well-functioning regional market. We wanted to address this deficiency but also do it in a way that is inclusive and effective. This is why we developed G-Soko; a grain trading system that will enhance food trade across borders, and contribute towards making trading more transparent.”

The system performs a structured trade finance function where grains are stored in certified warehouses and then used as collateral to access financial services. This can be done either through warehouse receipt financing or inventory credit financing. Once issued with a warehouse receipt, farmers can use the receipts as guarantee to access loans, credit or any such services, whilst still competitively marketing their grain to regional markets.

Reiterating the technical capabilities of the platform and its role as a solution-provider, Virtual City Managing Director, John Waibochi noted that;

The model addresses the challenge of funds inadequacy by devising affordable export/import financing modalities. It creates synergies from the small scale farmers to the bulk buyers based on tested market structures. This system also enhances traceability of grains. Its Grain Bulking feature allows farmers to consolidate and sell their grains at aggregation centers linked with certified warehouses. More importantly, G-Soko will increase the utilization of East African standards for grain commodities and products because quality assurance is key.”

Notes to the editor

About FoodTrade

FoodTrade East and Southern Africa (www.foodtradeesa.com) is a 5-year trade enhancement and promotion programme focusing on staple food crops. Funded by the UK Government and managed by Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), FoodTrade ESA operates in nine East and Southern African countries of Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi. The programme works with private sector and relevant institutions to improve storage, inputs and service markets, information and coordination mechanisms and policy and regulation with the aim to get more people trading in regional staple food markets.

 

About Eastern Africa Grain Council

The EAGC (www.eagc.org) is a membership-based organisation registered in 2006 at the request, and through the efforts of, key stakeholders in all three sections of the grain value chain. The membership comprise of all levels of the value chain including input suppliers, producers, traders and processors. The overarching goal of the Council is to contribute to the integration of national and regional grain markets and by so doing increase market access and incomes for the grain value chain stakeholders, especially the smallholder farmers.

The council’s thrust is to develop and promote a structured grain trading systems that stimulates backward and forward linkages between the various levels of value chain actors resulting in increased opportunities for the smallholder farmers to participate in formal structured grain markets. To achieve the objectives EAGC implements interventions intended to achieve a more organized marketing system that include developing markets institutions, provision of market information, capacity building and policy influencing.

 

For more information, please contact:

Jacinta M. Mwau

Lavington, Mbaazi Avenue, Off Kingara Road,
Tel: +254 2 3745840
Office Cell: +254 733 444035 0r 0710607313

Mobile: +254 726 670 822
Email: jmwau@eagc.org 
Web: eagc.org ratin.net