News and updates on research on livestock value chains by the International Livestock Research Institute and partners

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Regional experts develop strategies towards better data on formal trade in staple foods in Africa

 "Counting the beans": Regional experts agree on the need for more reliable data on the volume and value of formal trade in food commodities in eastern and southern Africa. (Photo credit: ILRI/Mann)

Regional and international experts in commodity trade met on Tuesday 1 February 2011 at the Nairobi-based headquarters of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) for an intensive day-long workshop to map out pragmatic approaches towards improving the quality of data on formal trade in eastern and southern Africa.

The workshop was organized by the Regional Strategic Analysis Knowledge Support System – East and Central Africa (ReSAKSS-ECA) with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA). ACTESA is a specialized agency of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) which seeks to integrate small farmers into national, regional and international markets.

Some 35 participants attended from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia representing national statistics offices, national revenue authorities, research organizations, and ministries of agriculture. Regional economic communities were represented by senior officials from the secretariats of COMESA and the East African Community.

The workshop brought together key stakeholders to identify the factors contributing to the poor quality of reported data on formal trade in eastern and southern Africa with a view to developing appropriate strategies to remedy the situation.

Presentations were made on the inconsistencies in the value and volume of formal trade data on staple foods in eastern and southern Africa, and lessons learned from trade data reconciliation efforts in the COMESA region and Uganda.

During a plenary session, pragmatic action points were discussed at length and specific institutional roles and responsibilities towards improving the quality and consistency of formal trade data agreed upon.

Improving accuracy during data capture and harmonization of data editing procedures were among several key interventions that were agreed upon. The participants also noted that existing gaps in capturing data on informal cross-border commodity trade need to be filled.

For detailed information on the outputs of this workshop, please contact the ReSAKSS-ECA Coordinator, Dr Joseph Karugia (j.karugia [at]

For more information, visit the ReSAKSS website.

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