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Monday, March 26, 2012

Grain Institute for Eastern Africa launched

By Esther Nakkazi

Although commodity prices overall remained stable in February, they will continue to rise in the next two months in all the East African region countries, says a market analysis report in the Regional Agricultural Trade Intelligence Network (RATIN).

RATIN is a service provided by the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC), which contains a market bi-weekly analysis of market activities and prices across the region’s selected main grain markets to help reduce regional food insecurity.

EAGC market and border monitors based in the region’s five countries, on a daily basis collect and transmit to RATIN whole sale prices of maize, beans, rice, wheat, sorghum, millet and factors that trigger price changes of such commodities.

According to the two latest reports, commodity prices in February were stable due to a fall in demand as markets still relied on stock from the previous harvests.

For instance, in this month, (March) maize, the most traded commodity in the region had its prices remain fairly stable in all the regions’ markets, trading at a weekly average wholesale price of $225 per metric ton in Tanzania, $357 in Kenya, $270 in Uganda, $486 in Rwanda and $364 in Burundi.

But by early March the prices for maize in all markets increased by 2-10 percent in all the monitored markets by EAGC based in Nairobi and they will continue to rise over the next two months.

The RATIN mid-March market analysis report says the price of maize in the region’s markets is likely to continue rising due to increased demand as a result of the planting currently going by farmers.

The prices will further be affected by demand from South Sudan, which has poor grain production and its maize prices are almost double the average for the region, triggered by low harvests and trade disruptions.

This trend will most likely affect the prices of maize and other commodities in neighboring Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, the RATIN mid-March analysis report says.

Meanwhile, EAGC also recently launched the first Grain Institute in the agribusiness sector for the region known as the Eastern Africa Grain Institute (EAGI).

Ultimately, the initiative seeks to improve efficiency, strengthen the capacity of domestic and regional markets to absorb grain surpluses as well as to reduce transaction costs in grain output markets in the region.

The institute will train, mentor and provide technical agribusiness training and capacity building to key stakeholders in the grain value chain, said Janet Kalulu Ngombalu, the marketing and communications manager at EAGC.

Ms. Ngombalu said EAGI is the first in Africa and aspires to be the industry leader in delivering customized training and educational programs for players in the grain sector and other agricultural value chains.

EAGI will include courses like grain post harvest handling techniques and technologies including grain warehousing and storage management as well as structured trading systems for the grain sector, including grain quality standardization and grading.

IT will also train in utilization of warehouse receipt systems in promoting structured trade and market linkages; inventory‐backed structured financing; managing price and other market risks using instruments such as futures and options contracts offered by commodity exchange.

Stakeholders in the grains value chains including farmers, traders, grain handler, processors, millers and consumers particularly in Eastern Africa and Southern Africa region are expected to benefit from training at the Institute.

It will support the development of the commercial value chains by building the capacity of key stakeholders, thereby enabling them to effectively utilize emerging new agricultural marketing and finance institutions such as agricultural commodity exchanges, said Jackson Kiraka an official from EAGI.

The EAGC is collaborating with the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich and other leading institutions and universities in Eastern Africa, in designing and developing the training programmes.

The proposed courses are based on a training needs analysis and stakeholder consultations, which was recently conducted in the region.

Each of the courses would have a certification process, with the possibility of advancing to post‐graduate degree qualifications from the Greenwich University in the United Kingdom.

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