On 24 April, the APPG held a meeting on regional trade, as part of the evidence gathering process for a briefing paper on this topic.

Just 5% of Africa’s imports of staple cereals come from other African countries. As the continent increasingly urbanises, demand for food is also rising, and individual countries cannot neatly meet that demand with production inside national borders.

Cross-border trade is essential, and this can also provide farmers across Africa with greater opportunity and incentives. Capturing a greater share of domestic and regional markets could generate significant additional income for these farmers, and lift them out of poverty.

But farmers in Africa face significant barriers in accessing the inputs they need and in getting their food to consumers in African cities.

What are the major obstacles? One is transport and logistics services, which are patchy and expensive. Opaque trade policies, poorly communicated to farmers and traders, are another problem. Poor access to market information means many farmers also don’t know where the opportunities are. Border crossings can be difficult and even dangerous, particularly to women traders.

The APPG meeting heard evidence from three experts on regional trade:

Ananth Raj, Digital Strategy Lead, World Food Programme (Farm to Market Alliance)
Rachel Beckett, Director, Farm Africa Uganda
Isolina Boto, Manager (Brussels), Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation

A briefing paper on the topic will be published later this year.