This meeting was financially and technically supported by CTA and organised by the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) and the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU).
Participants highlighted poor information flow, poor produce standards, inadequate infrastructure, lack of access to finance and the unpredictable policy environment, and related tariff and non-tariff barriers, as being their major problems. They considered that collective action could assist in resolving some of these problems and agreed to try to form a regional association. They agreed to set up a coordinating committee to help move things along.
Surveyed after the meeting, 90% of participants said the issues discussed were very important for their industry. For example, many participants indicated that the present policy environment had a significant impact on their work. While all agreed that establishing an association was an important way forward, there were some concerns about how such an association would be funded.
Promotion of such "multi-stakeholder" activities is an important component of CTA's strategy. We are also working with SACAU to develop similar associations in southern Africa for the livestock and oilseeds sectors and we have been early supporters of the new West African Grain Network (WAGN).