Despite the integration of 6 economies in the East African Community (EAC), many Small -scale farmers especially women have for so long not felt the impact of the Integration on their Livelihood.
The problem has been squired on poor information flow related to markets available for agricultural producers and the economic opportunities the EAC Integration offers to smallholder farmers.
It’s against this background that small-scale farmers from Uganda and Kenya with support from Development partners have launched an integrated Information Communication Technology project that will help farmers to address the challenge of Information flow related to agricultural products and the economic potential of the integration among the EAC Countries, majorly Uganda and Kenya
Under the project code-named Kilimo Mart Application, an ICT application will be developed to aid farmers to share information using Information Communication technology gadgets such as Mobile phones.
By using the application, farmers will be in a position to access information related to markets for their products.
According to Andrew Adem the Programs Manager of the Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) Uganda, if the application is well embraced by the sector holders it will open many Agro-business opportunities to the small farmers in the East African region.
“ESAFF Uganda in partnership with Kenya Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (KESSFF) and with support from Incubator for Integration and Development in East Africa( IIDEA), GIZ and the EAC will be implementing a project that will boost trade opportunities for agricultural products and services through promoting small-scale farmers’ access to markets and information in East Africa.
“This will create market opportunities for small-scale farmers and consumers to utilize the current trade prospects and share agricultural information using ICT,” said Adem during the on-line launch of the project at the ESAFF Uganda offices in Kampala.
Adem added that the project will play a very vital role in empowering women small -scale farmers hence improving household livelihood.
The Kilimo Mart Application is a 12 months project that will be jointly implemented by ESAFF Uganda and KESSFF with support from Development partners such as the African Union, GIZ, IIDEA among others.
Why farming communities are coming up with the marketing application?
It’s believed that although the East African Community has a population of about 146 million people, the potential consumers of Agricultural related products alongside those of the Common Market for the Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), farmers are not feeling the economic benefits of such integration.
Margaret Masudio a small scale farmer from Adjumani district said the project will provide an opportunity for small-scale farmers who cannot access markets to access them considering that cooperatives, that used to help them in marketing collapsed.
She added that the EAC integration should present an opportunity to share market information and cross border trade.
Other farmers from Uganda said that East African Members states should ensure that smallholder farmers tap into the opportunities that come alongside with the regional economic integration.
Masudio observed that many smallholder farmers are not aware of the regional integration which prevents them from tapping into the wider opportunities.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO