The Hub partnered with Agribusiness Focused Partnerships (AGRIFOP) to empower 20 women cross border traders from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on how to protect their rights under national, regional and international cross border trade protocols and on structured staples food trade practices. The capacity building forum included a Business-to-Business event where women traders signed commitments to trade 2,000 MT of Soya valued at $1.3 M, and 6,000 MT of maize valued at $1.65 M.
The traders received training on the harmonized EAC grain standards which enabled them to understand grain quality expectations for cross border trade, including proper grain handling and aflatoxin awareness. The women traders also learned about the nine step Simplified Trade Regime (STR) guidelines set up by the EAC and COMESA to ease the challenges of moving goods across the region.
"We have had challenges in securing good quality grains from the traders and therefore applaud the efforts of the Hub in training the cross border traders so they are aware of the quality requirements for grains and legumes,” said Alphonesine Mutako, Rwanda Grains and Cereals Corporation.
Formal cross border trade in East Africa faces many challenges. Small informal cross border traders, the majority of whom are women, face even greater challenges to moving staples from one country to another. Studies have shown that women engaged in informal cross border trade lack knowledge of the rules and regulations governing formal cross border trade and are often the subject of physical abuse, extortion and burdensome requirements. In order to support increased intra-regional trade in staples and increase the resiliency of border communities, it is important to empower women cross border traders on structured trade, basic principles of business and EAC/COMES STR and grain standards.
"The borders between us are administrative and should not be a hindrance to trade, we encourage the traders to come through appropriate channels and if they have challenges we are there to assist them" said Jean Baptiste from Rwanda Department of Immigration.
One of the goals of the Hub is to increase EAC intra-regional trade of agricultural commodities thereby contributing to economic growth and consequently to the attainment of Feed the Future objectives. Building the capacity of women traders on regional grain standards and cross border trade protocols will enable them trade greater volumes.
The Hub partnered with AGRIFOP, through a grant, to build the capacity of women cross-border traders and their associations, to support their participation in the formal trade of staple foods and to increase their representation within the East African Community (EAC). Cross border women traders from the republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania at the borders of Gisenyi, Kagitumba/Mirama Hills, Rusumo and Nemba were targeted in this activity. The main objective of these workshops was to sensitize women traders on structured trade procedures at the border, particularly the STR, and to build trade linkages among the traders themselves and with larger aggregators and processors.