One Stop Organic Shop East Africa (OSOSEA)

Toam Logo

In September 2014, the Tanzanian Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM), in partnership with the Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN) and National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU) was awarded a grant by TradeMark East Africa Research and Advocacy Challenge Fund (TRAC) to implement their project which will create a One Stop Shop (an information and communication infrastructure) that will be the go-to resource for all queries in the Organic Sector in East Africa by installing three national and one regional policy platforms that will provide an influential joined-up lobbying and advocacy mechanism to tackle policy barriers on cross-border trade.

The One Stop Shop will be based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with regional hubs in Nairobi and Kampala. It will gather and provide product and market information and support services; additionally, supporting farmers’ markets in each capital city, directly linking producers, processors, aggregators, traders, exporters, and consumers via easy access to up-to-date production and market information.

The project will strengthen advisory and support services and promote market growth which will result in substantially increased market share of East African organic products at the local, national, regional and international levels. Smallholder farmers will benefit from this project as they will be provided with access to ecological-based improved cropping best practices that will result in enhanced food security through enhanced access to markets for ecological organic produce. The project will promote the role of women in farming, specifically by facilitating the exchange, sharing and dissemination of agricultural best practices, technologies and approaches; all of which will reduce women’s workloads by 50% as they initially reported that they had typically only 2 hours of leisure time compared to 4.5 hours for men, while improving gender participation at a household level by empowering them to act at the forefront of the transformation with increased authority. The project will also result in the greater involvement of young adults and men in agricultural activities by increasing their participation in capacity building activities, knowledge sharing and awareness raising initiatives.

The project implementation is structured into 5 milestones:

  1. the development of Terms of Reference (TOR) for research studies, agreed and signed off by end of month 1 of the project

  2. advocacy materials and policy briefs created to trigger government policy review processes and disseminated to government officials and other stakeholders by end of month 6 of the project

  3. two national and regional policy advocacy forums to be held and one regional and two national information hubs established by month 9 of the project

  4. three organic farmers markets established in Nairobi, Dar and Kampala by end of month 12

  5. at least 4,500 participating farmers’ incomes increased by 30% and over 500MT of organic products sold in regional markets by farmers participating by the end of the project

Project Objectives

Organic Coffee Beans
Fair Trade Organic Coffee
  • Organize and implement a series of policymakers’ fact finding visits to farmers; to see and hear directly from farmers, particularly poor farmers, the latter’s experience of barriers to trade, in order to influence decision makers and policy reform (line ministries in Agriculture and Trade, MPs, East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), national investment promotion agencies) to support enhanced farmers’ access to markets and trade. This will involve the creation of a support instrument and the participation of stakeholders in national and regional advocacy forums, bringing together farmers, civil society farmers’ organizations, experts and policy makers together to share the findings of the research studies while advocating for policy change. Consequently, East African policy makers will become increasingly aware of the diversity of organic production, distribution, guarantee and consumption models and their multiple benefits. Identifying and communicating appropriate information and messages for different countries and policy makers is a key activity of this component, the objective being to enhance a wider and more diverse uptake of organic agriculture across the region.
  • Creating linkages with mobile phone providers (e.g. Airtel) as partners in the development of competitive commercial farmer information services (local weather forecasting, agronomic advice, market price data), while also providing a single rate cross-border SMS package that will result in significant increases in yields and diversified production as smallholders will have access to knowledge about how to add good organic and agro-forestry practices to their traditional methods;  an approach that will put the farmer at the center of the farming strategy, restoring a decision-making role to local communities, guaranteeing their right to control their own resources, also engaging their active participation in a value-added food web and decreasing the impacts of crop failures.
  • The regional online central information hub has been completed and can now be accessed at: kilimohai.org. Since its launch, the website has had over 900 page views and users have begun uploading produce on to the marketplace page. This powerful online platform is also being used to house the national online hubs which provide learning resources such as the organic fact sheets, along with networking and trade opportunities as well as housing advocacy materials.
  • Organic farmers’ markets are already in operation in Kenya and Uganda and the planning process for the Tanzanian market is underway. These monthly physical markets will be located in key city locations, containing a colorful range of healthy, natural, fresh and processed produce, while also supporting participating farmers with training at the initial stage on how to prepare and market their produce through farmer’s markets. Thus, farmers will improve the quality of their produce and will be able to adjust production to meet market demand.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

The project’s implementation was not entirely challenge-free as there were delays in the accomplishment of the agreed milestones; the main obstacles to progress including the following:
  • The policy advocacy components of the project were delayed due to difficulties in commissioning the studies as a result of financial limitations, so an extension to the milestone’s delivery was secured.
  • There were indications that the Government of Dar es Salaam lacked funds for rollout activities and was not fully supportive of the project’s objectives, so advance advocacy and an earlier engagement with relevant government planners and stakeholders should have be implemented.
  • Working with delivery partners in three countries presented communication and coordination challenges, so advance briefings, team building initiatives and face-to-face dialogue was seen as a useful way of improving implementation performance.
  • Where decision makers faced challenges in coordination of the project’s implementation, the project’s team realized that they needed to establish clearer lines of reliable communication, nominating a lead contact in each country as a way of maintaining commitment to the project’s objectives.
Farm Crops

Conclusion

The project has the ability to improve the income and livelihoods of organic farmers in rural communities in East Africa through the development of market-oriented organic agriculture and production. Organic agriculture not only contributes to sustainable food supply at a household level, but also enhances export opportunities and increased incomes through participation in niche markets that are evolving among the middle-class in the region, as well as in the richer economies in Europe and Asia that are increasingly sensitive to food safety and quality issues.