Assessment of markets opportunities for local food crop to enhance incomes and improve food security for smallholder farmers in East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda)

Sponsor: Purdue University's Global Policy Research Institute

This report provides a summary of people contacted, institution visited, and observation made during a visit to three East African countries (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) to assess needs and opportunities for value addition and market development for agricultural commodities. The assessment was funded through a seed grant from Purdue University's Global Policy Research Institute. The goals of the study were to explore opportunities for value addition and market development for agricultural commodities, and to identify potential collaborators on future efforts in the region including local institutions and/or individual researchers. Several institutions were visited including: universities, national research institutions, non-governmental organizations and private entrepreneurs such as women group processors.

Specific objectives:

  • Identify a specific commodity of focus for IFTC.
  • Identify potential technology adaptation approaches.
  • Evaluate transportation impact on food supply capacity and longevity.
  • Develop a full proposal for external funding to mobilize available or develop new post-harvest technologies to expand markets for local farmers

The information gathered from this study will be used to develop grant proposals for programs in food processing to expand markets for local farmers


As expected, the value chains are quite diverse in the region ranging from horticultural crops to cereal grains, legumes, and root & tuber crops, thus very difficult to prioritize. There is high dependence on cereal grains particularly maize in Tanzania and Kenya. Different organizations in each of the countries visited have used different criteria to prioritize the commodities of focus. Most depend on availability of funding and expertise in the commodity.

The greatest potential for value addition based on production and potential market demand is in the following categories:

  • Fruits - mangoes, passion, avocadoes, pineapples and bananas
  • Root crops - cassava, sweet potato, and yam
  • Cereals - maize, sorghum, millet, rice (parboiling - AGRA),
  • Legumes - beans, cowpea, soybeans
  • Vegetables: Tomatoes, African leafy vegetables
  • Dairy - milk

Overall, research and development activities for value addition are extremely limited in the region. All three countries go through the cycle of increased supply and limited demand at harvest (resulting into losses) followed by complete lack of the same commodities when out of season. There is new emphasis by most organizations as well as governments to focus on the whole value chain from production to markets. For the first time in Kenya, the Ministry of Agriculture has established a department on post-harvest.

Most of the on-going work in value addition is still in the research stage. Available improved technologies have not gone beyond pilot scale despite the general sense of availability of demand for the products. The limited adoption of new and improved technologies attributed mostly to lack of funding and equipment to transition to commercial scale production. A few institutions in the region are developing incubation programs for their graduates (e.g. Makerere University in Uganda and Sokoine Agriculture University in Tanzania).