The Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC), under the of Eastern Africa Grain Institute (EAGI) in partnership with the International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC) and the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA), have just concluded an International Workshop on Agricultural Market Information Systems and ICT Platforms for Business Management across the Value Chain. The training was held from 8th – 12th December 2014, in Arusha, Tanzania. This training is part of a series of MIS trainings held every two years in partnership with IFDC. The previous one was held in Nairobi in 2012, entitled “Increasing Agricultural Input and output trade through Innovative Market Information systems in Africa. The training brought together over 85 key participants from over 24 Countries across the world including Africa, Asia, USA and Europe. The countries include Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Italy, Germany, Senegal, Kenya, Swaziland, Uganda, Burundi, Madagascar, Morocco, France, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Zambia, USA, Belgium, Cameron, Malawi, UK and Netherlands.
The Meeting was officially opened by Dr. Millis Gadbois, Director IFDC East and Southern Africa Division, Vincent Fautrel, Senior Programme Coordinator (CTA), and Gerald Masila, Executive Director (EAGC) whose remarks were read in absentia by Janet Ngombalu, the Regional Manager, Marketing Information Systems and Communication. The Training was officially closed by Ms. Janet Ngombalu, on behalf of the hosting partners IFDC, CTA and EAGC.
EAGC was also a key speaker at the meeting. EAGC led by the Regional Manager – Marketing Information Systems Ms. Janet Ngombalu, hosted a panel discussion of key experts on Market Information including Mark Davies of ESOKO, Robert Kintu (FIT Uganda), Patrice Annequin (IFDC), Angelique Uwimana ( ESOKO- Rwanda), and Pierre Ricau (RONGEAD). The panellist discussed and shared key learnings on Marketing Information Systems from over 10 Years’ experience in the field.
The international MIS training focused on a panel discussion on background of MIS, building sustainable MIS; Market Information to Intelligence; ICT for Agriculture value chains; field visits for practical experience; peer assist and plug and play.
The Training was important for EAGC staff and stakeholders to improve on EAGC Market Information Systems – EAGC – RATIN. It assisted the EAGC Members and grain stakeholders on both the supply and demand sides and notably improving information throughout the value chain. EAGC mandate is also centred on policy, the training therefore assists EAGC to provide and engage policymakers on evidence based policy through the skills acquired in this training.
EAGC also works to support regional grain trade in the region therefore the training on MIS assists in contributing to increased regional trade, economic planning and policies, as well as international development agencies.
EAGC achieves its mandate which is to “advocate for an enabling environment and promote Structured Grain Trade for optimum benefits of our stakeholders and live our vision to “be the leading voice of the grain industry in Africa” through various strategies but mainly in providing Timely, Credible, Marketing Information under www.ratin.net.
EAGC Role at the Training
EAGC as a partner in the training hosted key sessions in the meeting including the Opening remarks, the Panel Discussion, Sustainability of MISs, Marketing Intelligence, and coordinated the field visits to the Arusha Maize Market and Ndovu Rice Market, and also participated in the Plug and Play and Peer Assist session of the training.
EAGC hosts the only regional Market Information System, the Regional Agricultural Trade Intelligence Network (www.ratin.net- RATIN). Towards this, EAGC has put in place the key systems for information generation and dissemination including ICT infrastructure, and a complementary information dissemination channel all hosted under EAGC RATIN. This also includes a battery of market and border monitors placed at various market points, as well as entering into agreements for information sharing.
EAGC also hosts a Mobile based Data Collection process. The information is collected at the local markets and also at the border points for tracking cross border trade. EAGC also coordinates the EAC Regional Food Balance Sheet, hosted under EAGC – RATIN. EAGC provides Daily Grain Prices, Daily Grain Trade News, Cross Border Trade information, and other Agricultural Trade Information.
EAGC’s work complements and supports the achievement of mandates, programs and policies of various institutions. To this end, EAGC works to build cooperation and linkages at national and regional level through established partnerships arrangements including memoranda of understanding (MoUs), letters of agreements and collaboration with various regional and international organizations that share in her mandate.
The International Training on Agricultural Marketing Information System and ICTs Platforms.
The main objective of the training was to improve technical knowledge of the design and operations of effective MIS for more transparent markets and agribusinesses; explore the viability of the new initiatives to improve the collection, processing and dissemination of market data for agricultural trade, agribusinesses and food security; analyze the MIS impact on trade in agricultural inputs and outputs at national and regional markets; receive hands-on experience with appropriate information and communications technology (ICT) platform solutions capable to enhance the effectiveness and impact of their agricultural value chains; review and apply the best practices and lessons learned from well-functioning MIS to their country-specific situation in order to reduce market information asymmetries; identify strategies to ensure enabling environments, scaling up and sustainability of MIS that meets the commercial needs of traders, agribusinesses and farmers; and develop business linkages among MIS stakeholders from different parts of Africa.
From the training, the participants reported back that they learnt on Models and ICTS that support Agricultural Markets, how to use ICTs to reach farmers, traders and processors, integrating ICTS within the value chain. They also reported to have learned, how to collect data, and timely delivery of information through ICT, importance of quality assurance, partnership are key for sustainability of market information, market information system is not only for farmers but for business, creating user friendly systems
In conclusion a publication of a series of MIS Practical Briefs was developed, The group agreed on the action points for a continental body to coordinate MISs in the region known as Africa Agricultural Marketing Information Systems Network (AAMISNET), the team agreed on a continental database and framework to support information sharing under (Apps4AG) and a support systems of MIS known as (AgriHack) to support upcoming talents in Agricultural Marketing Information.