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Comesa designs $8m website on agriculture

28 February 2007, New Vision/allAfrica

Kampala: The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has developed a website aimed at improving agricultural marketing and trade in the 20-member countries.

The website, called Food and Agricultural Marketing Information System is being funded by the African Development Bank (ADB) at $8m.

The website will also have information on livestock, crops and agricultural input prices, production statistics, supply and demand figures, policy guidelines as well as regulations and procedures that govern trade in the member states.

Thomas Barasa, the agricultural and marketing expert at COMESA, while speaking at a sensitisation workshop at Hotel Equatoria in Kampala, said the three-year project would enhance decision-making by all stakeholders.

"One of the major factors bogging down trade in the region is lack of market information, especially in regard to commodity demand and supply, prices, consumer needs as well as regulation and rules that govern, regional and international trade in agricultural commodities," said Barasa.

There is need, therefore, to provide this information so that the stakeholders can use it to formulate policies and appropriate decision making,"

Dr. Chungu Mwila, the director at the COMESA secretariat, said the home page has information on regional food security, plant and animal health, regional markets and provides provisions for e-transactions.

Rhoda Tumusiime, the commissioner of planning and development at the agriculture ministry, said the initiative was in line with the government's initiative to modernise agriculture.

She hailed the website, saying that when farmers get access to up-to-date market information, they will be able to react to market forces and negotiate with traders from an informed position.

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