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EAC Rolls Out Regional Campaign To Boost Agricultural Exports

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4:09 pm

The East African Community (EAC) has launched a campaign aimed at creating awareness on agricultural value chains-export trade opportunities and achievements created through the first European Union- EAC Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP).

The 30- day campaign launched this June 14, 2023 in Arusha, Tanzania will showcase activities aimed at engaging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the agricultural value chain, co-operatives and farmers, as well as government entities in the EAC to access information and tools on agri-export trade.

Throughout the campaign, beneficiaries of the program will share their stories of transformation owing to MARKUP support.

The campaign comes at the close of the MARKUP 1 programme which has seen many beneficiaries given capacity in equipment, technical management and financial skills, and introduced to sustainable agricultural practices to remain relevant and competitive in the agri-export trade sector.

Since its inception in 2018, the MARKUP 1 programme has enabled agro value chains to make a notable increase in the export of coffee, spices, and avocado from the EAC to the EU.

According to Eurostat, the EAC exported agri-food products valued at €2.16 billion to the EU in 2022, representing an increase of 26.2% from the previous year.

Put together, coffee, tea, cocoa and spices accounted for 44.5% of all the EAC agri-food exports to the EU in 2022, followed by horticulture at 24.5 percent.

The MARKUP 1 programme has in the four years reached more than 30,000 farmers, businesspersons, experts and policy makers in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania- where the programme operates.

The program has supported 500 SMEs to interact with buyers through trade fairs and other networking events. More than 180 SMEs and co-operatives have received equipment such as coffee pulping machines, fruit processing equipment and moisture meters to improve the quality of their products.

In the four years of MARKUP, exports of coffee and avocado within and outside the EAC also grew exponentially.

Between 2018 and 2022, export of coffee from the EAC to the EU grew by 35 percent while that of avocado grew by 7 percent.

Throughout the campaign, beneficiaries of the program will share their stories of transformation owing to MARKUP support.

“We invite you to join us through our website and social media platforms to amplify these and similar stories of SMEs and Government institutions that have been transformed as a result of MARKUP, and to continue advocating for initiatives to address the market access barriers that still remain,” said Max Middeke, the Deputy Programme Manager at German Development Cooperation (GIZ) – EAC Programme.

Middeke said that MARKUP campaign comes at a time when the bulk of activities of the program are drawing to a close and that the campaign is a way to take stock of the achievements of the program.

“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,” he said.

Jose-Luis Gonzalez the Programme Officer at the European Union Delegation in Tanzania and EAC 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 and reducing some of the existing export constraints.

“Some encouraging results have emerged,” Gonzalez said, for example, in Kenya, the number of steps to export coffee were reduced from 88 to 58. In Tanzania, the reduction was from 40 to 31.

This is just one illustration of what can be achieved where there is trust and informed dialogue between the public and the private sector.”

Flavia Busingye, the Ag. Director Trade at the EAC said that MARKUP had created numerous trade opportunities for agri-SMEs in the region and used the opportunity to announce the 2nd MARKUP with a focus on bridging gaps in MARKUP1.

Existing constraints include lack of access to market information, including on standards and quality requirements; cumbersome and sometimes costly customs procedures; poor connectivity, among others.

“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,” Busingye said.

Benefiting private and public sector partners in the export development sector shared their journeys of working and transformation under the MarkUp 1 program.

Aloys Tuyisenge, the Operations Manager at Mountain coffee processing and export company in Rwanda through the program partners they have learnt saving, exposure to EU markets and received supporting infrastructure and training.

Tuyisenge revealed that they had an old pulp machine that pulped 1.5 tons per hour but got a new one to pulp 2.5tons per hour to process coffee in short time and maintain the quality.

Tuyisenge said that they use wooden coffee drying beds which are repaired every year but the programme plans to build metallic drying beds to improve quality and be competitive on the market.

The 2nd MARKUP programme will be launched in September 2023, and is expected to bring improved standards, value chain mechanisms, competitiveness and to remove barriers in connecting SMES to the market in the EU.