The Eastern Africa Grain Council, EAGC participated in the stakeholder breakfast round-table discussion on marketing of root and staple drought tolerant crops across Kenya represented the Executive Director, Gerald Masila and Policy Analyst, Kim Mhando. The round-table hosted under the auspices of The Accelerated Value Chain Development (AVCD) Program, was held on 25th January 2017 at Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel, Nairobi.
The main purpose of the project is to stimulate the development of the value chains of these crops through increased productivity and stronger market linkages. With respect to staple drought-tolerant crops, the project seeks to develop the value chains of sorghum, millet, cowpeas, green grams and groundnuts from seed systems to consumption.
The meeting received progress updates on root crops (irish potatoes and orange flesh sweet potatoes) and staple drought tolerant crops (grains – particularly sorghum). With respect to the drought tolerant crops, the meeting noted that:
The project’s main interventions in the promotion of staple drought-tolerant crops are: improving seed accessibility for high quality seeds; promotion of good agricultural practices; improving post-harvest handling and storage; stimulating utilisation/consumption of these crops through product development and value addition; and strengthening market linkages. The project’s locations for this component are Elgeyo-Marakwet, Siaya, Busia, Tharaka-Nithi, Kitui and Makueni Counties.
The project is taking efforts to promote sorghum consumption through blending in flours. The project has experienced a few challenges so far like; Crop insurance (weather-indexed insurance) has not worked well so far. Despite adverse weather conditions, farmers were not compensated by insurers since satellite data used for the weather index insurance indicated “sufficient moisture levels” in the project areas.
The project linked farmers and off-takers through a contractual agreement, whereby the contract price for sorghum is Kshs 70/kg. However, there is a significant risk of side-selling given that prevailing prices are between Kshs 80-110/kg in Lower Eastern areas.
The project is also faced with challenges relating to trade finance, in the sense that available financial products and not friendly to agricultural trade. There are current attempts to use invoice discounting.
During panel discussions, panelists noted that, the project needs to take substantial efforts to understand the markets for staple drought-tolerant crops. Therefore, a thorough market study should be done for these crops in Kenya and beyond, so as to adequately guide the interventions in these value chains.
The project should focus on creating and sustaining untapped markets such as schools, prison services and the military barracks to name a few. In addition, it was noted that there’s need for a guiding policy framework for development of agricultural markets.
The meeting agreed that stakeholders and partners should contribute towards finding solutions to some of the pertinent issues facing the project and market linkages within it towards realization of the project success.