ABC Bank and the East Africa Exchange will soon launch a Sh200 million credit line in a collaborative initiative to offer small scale grain farmers affordable grain trade finance.
During a stakeholders’ forum held in Eldoret and graced by EAX Board chair, Former Amb. Dr. Jendayi Frazer in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County Governor, Hon. Jackson Mandago said the initiative will have a positive impact, especially the warehouse services which contribute to solving the challenges of grain storage and marketing, further expressing the North Rift region’s support through NOREB (North Rift Economic Bloc) and the uasin Gishu county Ministries of trade and agriculture.
The three-way deal heralds the commodity exchange’s plans to expand its operations into Kenya as part of its vision to increase regional market efficiency and give East Africa’s smallholder farmers better access to post-harvest management services and link them to reliable agricultural and financial markets and facilitate competitive pricing for their crops and access to finance.
When launched, the revolving credit facility will empower farmers to hold their produce and negotiate for better prices. Traditionally, farmers usually rush to sell off their produce immediately after harvest, either to avoid storage losses or because they need money for household expenditure or for farm inputs. This creates disequilibrium of market forces of demand and supply, hence low buying prices.
The partnership has also laid down modalities whereby reliable data on grain aggregation will facilitate efficient grain trading as traders, millers, farmers and other stakeholders will be able to know the type and quantity of products available in a particular location. These modalities are majorly supported by EAFF’s virtual granary platform (e-granary). EAAF represents approximately 20 million farmers across East Africa.
ABC Bank’s Head of SME Banking Lee Gachomba asserts that the time is ripe to introduce electronic warehouse receipting in Kenya as it ensures farmers get returns commensurate to their aggregate farm inputs and that they are insulated against losses incurred due to lack of proper storage facilities at the farm level.
A commodity exchange is a highly efficient stage for buyers and sellers to meet, primarily to address price risks better, and also to improve the marketing of their physical products. It makes economies more inclusive, bolstering links between agriculture and finance, and making the commodity sector more efficient and competitive. In addition, it facilitates a quick and easy dissemination of market price and other data, and creates a free and open auction system as well as providing a buffer against volatile prices.
The forum attracted various stakeholders including grain millers, traders, farmers and Government officials.