Over 300 million rural Africans in the east and southern regions of the continent are highly invested in agriculture, both socially and economically. Yet, the majority of these individuals who farm for a living lack the tools to move themselves from subsistence into profitability. Access to quality inputs is limited and expensive, current agricultural technologies are not widely understood and market systems lack the synergy to facilitate beneficial trade practices.
The STAR project promoted food security and agricultural growth through improved regional trade along East and southern Africa’s entire agricultural value chain. Funded through a William and Flora Hewlett Foundation grant, the project partnered with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The project’s primary objective was to improve market access for agro-dealers and smallholder farmers. This included better access to quality inputs and advanced agricultural technologies along with better market linkages, local and regional agricultural policy reforms and greater involvement of agricultural enterprises. The project ended in August 2010.
- Build a progressive environment for agricultural trade through policy and institutional reforms.
- Expand market linkages and opportunities for agro-dealers, farmers and their respective associations.
- Disseminate market information and current technologies to promote agricultural trade and cooperation.
The achievement of these objectives is crucial to develop revitalized national and regional input markets with improved availability, quality and affordability of inputs for agro-dealers and farmers. The methods for achieving these goals included targeted consultations with key stakeholders to assess the policy environment along with capacity building of regional economic communities, the private sector and farmer organizations. With this atmosphere of cooperation among the most active participants in the value chain, IFDC was able to build a foundation of common interest and shared commitment to success. Combined with these efforts, IFDC organized annual policy and trade workshops to build consensus around policy agendas at the regional level, and disseminated effective strategies for implementing its workshop recommendations.