An online platform that is intended to connect farmers to grain buyers was launched in Nairobi, Kenya.
The platform, which has been dubbed G-Soko, was developed by a Kenyan-based IT firm Virtual City in partnership with the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) and the Food Trade Eastern and Southern Africa Organisation.
G-Soko is intended to enable Smallholder farmers in East Africa to sell their produce at favourable prices.
Speaking at the launch of the platform, the Secretary General of the East African Community, Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera commended EAGC for partnering with the Secretariat to implement the EAC Food Security Action Plan, which is the EAC strategy to achieve food security in the region.
The Secretary General, who was represented by the Director for Productive Sectors Mr. Jean Baptiste Havugimana, also hailed the EAGC for the online initiative and pledged “EAC continued support in automating agricultural crops trading systems and processes to reduce commercialisation cost and all related challenges and bridge the gap between farmers, traders and consumers for increased food security in the region”.
Speaking at the same occasion, the Executive Director of EAGC, Mr. Gerald Masila disclosed that G-Soko was part of a five-year trade enhancement and promotion programme in the region. He said linking rural food production zones in East Africa to urban consumption centres requires a well-functioning regional market and that by adhering to the system, farmers in the region will, among others, be able to access credit while waiting for prices to increase through pledging the electronic warehouse receipt with the banks and agro-dealers.
The farmers will also benefit from reduced post-harvest losses through access to professional storage, cleaning, drying and will benefit from improved prices discovery since many of them rely on farm-gate prices that deliver cash at lower prices.
As for Millers,the G-Soko system is intended to guarantee availability of quality stocks; standardised and proven grading thus reducing need to carry out sampling to check quality.
The Director of Agriculture in the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kenya commended the initiative SAYING “We have seen very positive changes in the breadth and depth of the EAC integration and this is encouraging as we all hope to reap the benefits of regional integration”.
The G-Soko is now operational in two of the EAC Partner States; Uganda and Kenya, and arrangements are underway to extend the system to Tanzania and Rwanda before the Grains Farmers Summit scheduled to take place in Rwanda in early October 2015.
Present at the G-Soko launch were, among others, government officials from the Republic of Kenya, Development Partners, the Director of FoodTrade for East and Southern Africa, Representatives of Farmers Associations and certified grains warehouses from all the Partner States except Burundi.