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Food security project launches in East Africa


Donors, Celebrating the launch of the Market Linkages InitiativeCelebrating the launch of the Market Linkages Initiativeproducer associations, and others working to integrate smallholder farmers into national and regional markets attended the Market Linkages Initiative’s official launch June 9 in Nairobi. The project addresses the area’s food production imbalance: Countries in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) spend $19 billion on food imports annually—but produce only $3 billion of that within the region.

“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 and can’t find markets,” said Dr. Candace Buzzard, head of the Regional Economic Growth and Integration office at USAID/East Africa, at the event’s opening remarks. “MLI is working to overcome key bottlenecks, providing key equipment, training smallholder farmers how to meet market standards, and linking areas with good production with areas of deficit across borders.”

The project’s US$5.75 million grants mechanism is just getting underway. These grants will help storage operators, traders, and processors to upgrade storage facilities, improve storage management, and train farmers how to deliver staples that meet market standards.

Read the report in Kenya's Daily Nation.

Published June 2010