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
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
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Tel: +254 2 3745840
Office Cell: +254 733 444035 0r 0710607313