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Daily Nation Reports On USAID’s 2-Year, $11.5M Market Linkages Initiative To Improve Food Security In East Africa

USAID will contribute $11.5 million for the Market Linkages Initiative (MLI), a two-year program aimed at promoting trade in “staple foods” in East Africa, the Daily Nation reports.  

The project’s goal is “to build food security and capacity with strategic partners to open up market access for small-scale farmers” in seven countries, the publication writes (Senelwa, 6/29). Focus countries include: Burundi, the Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, southern Sudan and Uganda, according to a press release from USAID’s East Africa office (6/9).

The hope is that small farmers can increase their incomes by being incorporated into national and regional markets, said Candace Buzzard, head of regional economic growth and integration. “She said the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) member states spend approximately $19 billion (Sh1.5 trillion) on food imports annually though only $3 billion (Sh240 billion) is produced within the region,” the Daily Nation writes. “In many seasons, large quantities of food are produced in the region as a whole, too much of which spoils or is otherwise wasted after harvest because farmers can’t store it or can’t find markets,” Buzzard said.

MLI’s goals include: expanding grain storage, educating farmers about the the post-harvest processes, strengthening the market and cooperative learning, according to Buzzard. Anthony Ngosi, MLI project director, said $5.75 million grants will be given out to help with storage, staple food delivery and market standards compliance (6/29). 

African Agriculture Expert Discusses Food Security On The Continent

VOA News interviews Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) about the G8’s $22 billion food security commitment last year in Italy, which leaders stood by at the recent summit in Canada.

“We are quite delighted that there was time spent on deliberating and linking to the L’Aquila agreement,” said Sibanda. In response to a question about how the $22 billion should be spent, Sibanda pointed to the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Plan, “a framework at a continental level where each of the member states has developed their investment plans prioritizing their investments.”

“To succeed, Sibanda says it’s important ‘to make sure our farmers have the right incentives. What we’ve been lacking in Africa is this will to produce because there are a lot of subsidies that become a disincentive.’ … ‘Farmers need to be given the dignity they deserve so that they become the producers, the backbone of the economy, and they get a decent price for their produce. That’s what has been missing'” (DeCapua, 6/28).

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