By AGRA Content Hub

EAST African bigwigs Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda are set to benefit from an initiative that seeks to enable domestically produced rice to competitively substitute the current over US dollars 300m worth of rice imports to the regional Common Market.

The three East African Community (EAC) member countries will get funded under a three-year East African Rice Initiative (EARI) with an overall goal to contribute to inclusive transformation of the rice sector.

EARI targets East Africa for sustainable increase in incomes of 220,000 women, men and young people employed in the value chain of locally produced rice in the project that runs through 2022.

It will be implemented by Kilimo Trust (KT) in partnership with the EAC Secretariat, commissioned by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

A statement made available to the ‘Daily News’ from KT, EARI and EAC revealed one of specific objectives is to increase productivity, commercialisation, profitability and resilience for enterprises of smallholder.

Others are to strengthen and expand access and competitiveness in the national and regional markets for locally produced rice as well as strengthen local, national and regional enabling policy and institutional environment for optimal commercialisation of the rice sector.

The trio said the objectives are pursued through delivery of results such as a 50 per cent increase in net incomes for paddy farmers; at least 75 per cent of smallholder farming households using structured markets in input and output and a 50 per cent increase in average yield (MT/ha) of rice.

Also on the cards is a 20 per cent increase in volumes of rice sold by households through structured trade in household commercialisation level; 500,000MT of paddy sold through structured markets valued at 111,500,000$, at least 50 per cent increase in the number of farming households using post-harvest technologies and facilities.

The project is to realise at least 30 per cent increase in adoption rate of target improved productivity technologies or management practices at farmer level, at least three climate smart technologies and/or management practices introduced to paddy farmers.

Major envisaged outcome is that the supported SMEs processors will increase efficiency in local sourcing of paddy from smallholder farmers including quantity, quality and consistency in supply through village-based aggregation supported by contract farming model that will contribute to reducing transaction costs of the millers and increase the profitability of SHFs’ enterprises, facilitate sustainability beyond the current funding.

Implementation approach of EARI project is to build strong and sustainable business trading consortia led by processors and millers as anchor partner linked to farmers business organisations, such as cooperatives and input agro-dealers such as suppliers of agricultural production enhancing technologies like seeds, fertilisers, agrochemicals and post-harvest handling technologies and business development service providers.

KT is a not-for-profit organisation working in agriculture for development across the EAC. It has increasingly become the go to partner organisation for market-led agricultural value chain development in the region.

It envisions sustained and equitable wealth creation, food and nutrition security for smallholder farmers.

By Deus Ngowi, Daily News