Kilimo Trust is implementing a grant project from IFAD titled Regional East African Community Trade in Staples (REACTS). REACTS is working with the IFAD-financed agricultural development projects, in the EAC region, to accelerate incomes and wealth creation by smallholder (women, men and youth) producers of food commodities. REACTS mandate is to enable agricultural development projects in the EAC Region to align, build core skills, and work with relevant partners in enabling business enterprises of smallholder producers to respond effectively to regional markets for food products, in the East African Community (EAC), which, as you know, is a common market of nearly 160 million consumers.
The horizon for staple foods products trade enhancement is quite clear. For instance, as observed in Feed the Future (2015), staple foods such as maize, rice and beans, etc. are the fastest growing set of commodities in agricultural trade in eastern and southern Africa, with an estimated annual value of $50 billion, and represent 75 percent of total agricultural products traded. Integration of regional markets in EAC region is set to open opportunities to balance regional supply and demand, leading to opening up opportunities and incentives to increase productivity.
REACTS’ Strategy is centered on establishing capabilities and tools for the Projects to support cross-countries business linkages to tap into this market. REACTS therefore supports the Projects to; (1) attain a robust understanding of regional cross-border market opportunities, and then to use such understanding to build business oriented smallholder producers’ enterprises to improve competitiveness in the national and regional markets, (2) build robust structured business linkages that effectively integrate smallholders to profitable regional markets, while building on successes of access to national markets and (3) lastly build new partnerships with traditional and non-traditional service providers; public institutions and private sector players e.g. Ministries of Trade and commercial providers of trade services to support cross-border market linkages and structured trade of food commodities/products.