Accra : Ugandan farmers will begin exporting pulses to India under the Supporting Indian Trade Investment for Africa (SITA) project in an initiative launched by the UN’s International Trade Centre (ITC) and the UK Department of International Aid (UKAID).
The ITC said SITA is a response to the challenges that selected East African countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania – face in increasing and diversifying exports. It also addresses trade priorities of the beneficiary countries so that they can achieve sustainable development.
Already, members of the Uganda-based agro-commodity trading company Farmers Centre (U) Limited have signed a memorandum of understanding valued at over $5 million with Imara International, based in Mumbai, India.
Farmers Centre will supply green moong beans from July-August and November-December and pigeon peas from November-March, according to production periods in Uganda.
SITA facilitates the exchange of knowledge and skills across the Indian Ocean and builds trade linkages to increase trade in the pulses sector in SITA countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.
According to ITC, Indian investments in Africa in banking, mining and metals industries, industrial construction projects, telecommunications, information and communication technology (ICT), energy and automobiles facilitate the transfer of technology and employment creation.
“Africa has much to gain from Indian expertise and knowledge especially in terms of ICT and development of innovative solutions to address private sector priorities,” it added.
Similarly, it said, India has much to gain from increasing its share in the African market, adding: “Africa remains poised to be the growth miracle of this century. The statistics increasingly show that with the rise of the middle class in Africa, the youth-leaning demography, the technological leap-frogging which has been occurring and the tentative steps into global value chains, Africa is the market place and could be in some respects the supplier of the future.”
The ITC said the net gainers of this will be the 1.3 million SMEs (small and medium enterprises) that generate over 60 percent of the employment and contribute half of the region’s exports.
India, it said, understands what SMEs need to be able to trade: effective trade facilitation, access to finance and clear and transparent regulatory frameworks. Africa is a continent of SMEs – both formal and informal.
“These SMEs are the backbones of the economies and the incubators of innovative thought and solutions. They create platforms for women to step into the world of business and serve as hands on training grounds to the youth who will lead the development of the continent in the future,a it said.
The ITC said trade between India and Africa has increased by more than 30 percent annually between 2005 and 2011 and is expected to rise to $90 billion by 2015. India has moved from being the 13th largest exporter to Africa in 2001 to become its 5th largest exporter in a decade. Similarly, India was the 14th largest importer from Africa a decade ago and is now its third largest, accounting for almost seven percent of Africa’s exports.