Many small -scale farmers especially women have for so long not felt the impact of the East African Community (EAC) integration that brings together six countries on their livelihood.
The problem has been blamed on the poor information flow related to availability markets for agricultural produce and the economic opportunities the EAC integration offers to the smallholder farmers in the community.
It’s against the above 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.
Launched in Kampala on Wednesday, the project code named Kilimo Mart Application, an ICT application will aid farmers to share information using Information Communication technology gadgets such as Mobile phones.
Through using the application, farmers will be in position to access information related to markets for agricultural products.
According to Andrew Adem, the Programs Manager at the Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) Uganda, if the application is well embraced by the sector stakeholders 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 the 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,” Adem said in statement.
He added that this project will play a very vital role in empowering small -scale farmers especially women hence improving household livelihood.
More about the marketing application
It’s believed that although the East African Community has population of about 146 million potential consumers of agricultural related products alongside those of the Common Market for the Eastern and Southern Africa which comprises of 20 countries with estimated population of about 460 million of which the majority are farmers in the two Economic region, farmers especially the smallholder ones particularly women, they are not feeling the Economic benefits of such Economic Integration on their livelihood.
Commenting on the project, Masudio Margaret, a small-scale farmer from Adjumani district said the Kilimo Mart Application, a 12-month project will provide an opportunity for small-scale farmers who cannot access market most especially after the collapse of cooperatives that used to help them in marketing.
She added that the EAC integration should present an opportunity to share market information and cross border trade.
Another farmer, Vicky Lokwiya observed that many smallholder farmers are not aware of the regional integration which keeps them away from tapping on the wider opportunities the integration offers to them.
“The EAC integration is supposed to offer market opportunities to small scale farmers in the region but in many cases small-scale farmers don’t feel the impact. For me I only hear about the EAC market and I feel that small scale farmers are left out thus we are not benefiting from the EAC integration as they are not getting market opportunities,” Lokwiya, a small scale farmer from Gulu district in Northern Uganda, said.