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Strengthening Trade and Reducing Poverty in East Africa

The Regional Agricultural Trade Expansion Support Program promoted the ability of East African trade associations to expand regional and international exports to improve financial stability and increase producer incomes.

Through the Regional Agricultural Trade Expansion Support Program (RATES), USAID and Chemonics aimed to increase trade and regional cooperation in coffee, cotton/textiles, maize and grains, and dairy products exports by encouraging East African trade associations to become industry leaders.

Chemonics helped to develop partnerships between these associations and government agencies that formulate trade policies. With project support, private sector participants were remarkably successful in removing barriers to trade within the region and with the rest of the world.

The East African Fine Coffees Association organized frequent barista competitions to promote domestic demand for specialty coffe
The project encouraged international players, such as Starbucks and Dunavant, to invest in value chains and form lasting relationships. It also worked with USAID bilateral programs and other donors to increase resources. RATES encouraged East African coffee producers to expand specialty coffee exports that earn significantly higher returns. With project assistance, the Eastern African Fine Coffees Association took the lead in attracting buyers by hosting and participating in international conferences, training its members in quality standards, and holding “cupping” or tasting competitions around the region.

Similarly, cotton/textiles, maize and grains, and dairy associations helped members become better trained, more competitive, and more profitable. Trade in the four commodities increased by 58 percent since the project began. By focusing on key countries in East Africa, facilitating public-private partnerships, and bolstering trade associations’ ability to independently generate revenue, Chemonics helped USAID advance its goals in Africa to end hunger, reduce poverty, and effectively compete in a global marketplace.

Project Results:

  • $3.5 billion in exports in specialty coffee, maize and grains, cotton and textiles, and dairy products, a 58 percent increase in regional trade
  • 2,000 agricultural exporting and manufacturing firms benefiting 50 public-private partnerships formed
  • $20 million in contributions from private companies directly to regional associations

Project Duration: September 2002 – March 2009


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