Cheptarit Star Women Group
Caption: Josephine Bugei (Centre) from Cheptarit Star Women Group shares architect plan for the upcoming warehouse with Isaac Chege of Nafics, Thomas Opande of SIDA and DFID's Marco Serena. PHOTO / EAGC

The Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) and its partners conducted an assessment visit for the ongoing grain farmer support programmes in North Rift region on 9th and 10th March 2016. The tour was aimed at assessing the impact of the programmes on the farmer groups and warehouse operators in the grain sector.

EAGC’s partners in the programme include AGRA, Food Trade-ESA, SIDA, USAID-Trade Investment Hub, AMPATH and Virtual City. EAGC through the support of the partners, have been supporting grain farmers in the region under several initiatives such as training for capacity building on post-harvest handling, grain standards and warehouse receipt financing.

It has also been mobilizing farmers to aggregate their produce in the EAGC certified warehouses, helping establish market linkaging and issuing of post-harvest handling equipments like weighing scales, maize shellers and moisture metres. EAGC certified warehouses are also linked to G-Soko system and provided with full G-soko Kit- Bluetooth enabled weighing scale, smart phone and a thermal printer.

Speaking during the donor visit, group Secretary Josephine Bugei, acknowledged the support of EAGC. She said farmers are using the knowledge to reduce post-harvest losses.

Marco Serena, the Project Manager at  Food Trade East and South Africa (FTESA)- DFID funded project, applauded EAGC work especially in supporting women farmer groups. “We are delighted that these programmes are benefiting farmers and more importantly empowering women towards improved livelihoods.”

Mr Marco added that the G-Soko system is working well with farmers and has increased trust in grain trade.

Kiptarit Star Women group is one of the successful farmer groups in North rift which has immensely benefited from EAGC activities. The group has 43 grain village aggregation centres (VACs). In the 2015/2016 season, the VACs were mobilised to aggregate over 3000MT of both maize and beans. They were linked to access market from Nafics Ltd and World Food Programme. Locally the group also supplies to education institutions at good prices. Farmers

Recently EAGC launched G-Soko System, an online trading system comprising a network of automated grain bulking/aggregation centers and certified warehouses, linked to a virtual trading platform is aimed at facilitating efficient, structured and profitable trade. Nafics Limited, a member of EAGC, is one of the grain trade companies operating warehousing under G-Soko system. During the visit, donors learnt that the system roll-out is efficient and ensuring transparency especially to farmers, hence lowering losses through cartels.

Nafics Ltd Managing Director, Isaac Chege expressed confidence that G-Soko will create order in the grain trade and will help the farmers to reap better returns. “G-Soko is the next big thing, since it has created order in the grain trade, involving traders’ right from the small scale farmers promising better returns” Chege said.

Ms Anne Mbaabu, Director Market Access at AGRA applauded EAGC and Virtual City for innovating G-Soko system, which operates under simple model that will eventually transform grain trade in the region and beyond.

Other farmer groups identified for G-Soko piloting include Kipep Women group in Uasin Gishu County, Kuona Mbele CBO and Kurur Women Consumers Association. Mr Gerald Masila, EAGC Executive Director, reiterated the commitment of EAGC in growing partnerships to reach more farmers to empower them in the grain trade towards increased food security.

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