On Monday 30th November 2015, the Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM) held a workshop in Dar es Salaam to launch a report on ‘Farmer Managed Seed Systems’ in Tanzania and celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the creation of the movement on 16th July 2005. The event was also an opportunity to officially launch the TradeMark East Africa Challenge (TRAC) Fund supported online East African ‘organic’ marketplace. Attendees at the event included organic farmers, certifiers, researchers, activists, and representatives from a wide variety of civil society organisations.
Hosted at www.kilimohai.org – a web portal with hundreds of regular visitors – the online marketplace is a platform for buyers and sellers of organic produce to meet and create market links. Users have the option of advertising their organic produce on the ‘For Sale’ section or stating what produce they are looking for, through the ‘Wanted’ section.
The online marketplace, together with the Kilimohai portal, is funded by TRAC as part of the One Stop Organic Shop East Africa (OSOSEA) project run by TOAM in partnership with the Kenya Organic Agriculture Movement (KOAN) and National Organic Agriculture Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU). The technology for the portal and marketplace was developed by Ecosystems East Africa (ESEA), of Tanzania. The OSOSEA project supports the growth of Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) in Tanzania and across East Africa, through awareness raising, knowledge creation and the sharing of best practices in ecological organic farming.
The marketplace has the potential to increase efficiency in the organic subsector of East Africa, with buyers and sellers forming direct trade links. We also hope that the visible demand from buyers, and success stories of trade linkages to be created will provide an incentive for more growers in East Africa to seek organic certification.
Aside from being a marketplace for buyers and sellers, the Kilimohai portal is a source of learning resources (inc. ‘organic’ fact sheets, farming manuals and case studies); a forum for asking questions; and, a directory of buyers, sellers and certifiers based in East Africa. The Kilimohai portal is thus an online hub for all things organic in East Africa. The hub has been developed to serve Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and there is scope for increasing the reach, to provide services for the wider East African Community.
The launch was a success, drawing lots of interest from all sectors of the audience. Discussion was triggered as to how accessible the marketplace will be to farmers, many of whom have limited exposure to the Internet. One solution is to link the marketplace with mobile phone technology currently being developed as part of the OSOSEA project.
The marketplace has significant potential to increase trade in organic produce in East Africa. Over the coming months TOAM’s support for the promotion of ‘organic’ produce will begin to become evident in increased sales of organic produce both within and beyond the EAC, if the resource can be exploited effectively.