TANZANIA – The East African Grain Council (EAGC) has called for partnership with the ministry of Agriculture in Tanzania in a bid to address challenges facing the sector.

Fredrick Costa, Communications Officer, Fredrick Costa said that the council is engaging the ministry of agriculture in the country as it seeks to rump up support in handling the challenges.

“The desk will be dealing with the main challenges facing the private sector in terms of availability of hybrid seeds, agricultural inputs, access to funding and markets, among others,” he added

According to Costa, grain producers in the region are grappling with production costs, inaccessibility to markets, increasing post-harvest losses and use of poor quality seeds resulting to poor production.

He also cited lack of value addition technologies and poor infrastructure as major impediments towards growth in the grain sector translating to lower contributions to gross domestic product.

Since year 2006, the EAGC has contributed significantly in stimulating increased value and benefits to its members who include grain farmers or producers, traders, processors as well as other stakeholders across the grain industry.

As a part of its achievement in promoting the grain industry, EAGC has also championed several policy advocacy successes, capacity building of smallholder farmers through training programmes.

Additionally Costa cited that the council also propelled the removal of value added tax imposed on imported soya cake, as a major and scarce ingredient for animal feeds leading to affordable animal feed products in Tanzania.

However, EAGC said thattariff and non-tariff barriers are adversely affecting grain trade across the Eastern African region.

“In the process of enforcing the law, small-scale grain traders have suffered due to an increase in the cost of doing business.

This has escalated an already active informal trade in the region,” said a recent report by EAGC.

The Council which is backed by Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa, has also managed to build capacity of 95,651 maize and soya farmers in Tanzania linking them with a local buyer.

EAGC was formed to support structured grain trade, such as maize, wheat, rice, barley, sorghum, millet, within the Eastern and Southern Africa region.

The organization operates in over 10 countries in Eastern Africa region including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Ethiopia and South Sudan.