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Mid term review of Sida´s regional core support (2014-2019) to the Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC) promoting grain trade in the East African region “Strenghtening Regional Grain Markets II”

The East African Grain Council (EAGC) was established in 2006 as a membership organization of the grain value chain stakeholders in Eastern Africa. The core members include farmers, traders and processors. The Institution spans ten countries including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Malawi, Zambia and DRC. EAGC’s vision is to be the leading Voice of the grain value chain stakeholders in Africa. Its mission is to facilitate and advocate for a structured grain trading system for the benefit of the Industry players.

The objective of this assignment was to conduct a mid-term evaluation of Sida´s regional core support (2014-2019) to the EAGC promoting grain trade in the East African region through the “Strenghtening Regional Grain Markets II” to assess its effectiveness and potential sustainability. In particular, a key purpose of the assignment was to provide key stakeholders with the information necessary to answer the question: "going forward, what should be the strategy of the EAGC to meet the high-level goal defined in the programme proposal?" Within that context, the TOR placed particular emphasis on the "poverty focus" and upon the achievement of a sustainable EAGC. That information included:

a) An objective compilation of achievements to date, showing which interventions had been most effective in contributing towards the programme goal and which had been either unsuccessful, or successful, but incidental to the programme goal.

b) A review of the causal pathway(s) underlying the logical framework that determined recent interventions.

c) An assessment of the environment in which that logical framework was embedded ,including the on-going validity and relevance of key assumptions, as well as opportunities to leverage parallel or similar interventions in other programmes supported bilaterally by Sida.

d) Finally, the capacity of the EAGC to implement the refined strategy both now and in the future.

Furthermore, the stated Goal of the programme was: “To contribute to poverty reduction and enhanced food security by stimulating agricultural trade and growth, particularly in the ESA smallholder grain sector”. The programme goal was to be achieved through the attainment of five objectives:1) Integration of smallholders in grain value chain, 2) Establishment of and support to national and regional market information systems, 3) Facilitation of capacity building and awareness creation on various aspects of grain marketing in the region, 4) Contribute to the improvement of trading environment by providing a forum through which stakeholders in the value chain can engage and dialogue, and 5) Support EAGC Institutional Development

The MTR was conducted during spring 2018.

Overall, the findings suggested that the activities undertaken under the five objectives indeed contributed to poverty reduction and enhanced food security. Amongst those households that regularly produced a commercial surplus, the impacts were direct and self-evident. For those households that did not produce enough to meet their needs, the increased local prices that often accompany improved market infrastructure may actually have been detrimental, although EAGC interventions did provide offsetting benefits in the form of improved post-harvest technologies. Nevertheless, in the long-term the successful integration of smallholders into markets should have promoted the increased production necessary to enhance the food security of the community as a whole, while the increased profitability of commercial smallholder production should have provided opportunities for income generation amongst those who lack the land required to produce a regular surplus. In this context, the developments facilitated by EAGC interventions were essential to comprehensive rural development.

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