Arusha. Coffee exports from East Africa to the European Union (EU) have more than doubled in four years, thanks to an agribusiness project supported by the latter.
The exports of the bean hit record volumes, earning the bloc 1.1 billion euros last year, up from 488 million euros in 2018.
Earnings from avocado exports from the East African Community (EAC) partner states also went up to 112.4 million euros in 2022 from 85.5 million euros in 2018.
This was revealed here on Tuesday during the launch of the second phase of the EU-supported Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARK-UP).
The project, to be executed in the next four years, will be implemented at a cost of 40 million euros and is a follow-up to the first phase (2018–2022) for which the EU granted 40 million euros.
The EU Ambassador to Tanzania, Ms Christine Grau, said MARK-UP II demonstrates the EU’s commitment to supporting EA companies, fostering sustainable growth, and creating decent job opportunities.
Both phases of the multi-million Euro undertaking are being implemented by the EU, the EAC, and the International Trade Centre (ITC), according to ITC executive director Ms Pamela Coke-Hamilton.
“Our joint efforts to strengthen the region’s agricultural and horticultural sectors will help small businesses become more competitive on the international stage and help deliver on sustainable development priorities for the region and the continent,” she said.
Additionally, 37,819 small and medium enterprises were reached in this first phase and were empowered to become more competitive in the international market.
In phase one, more than 115 companies achieved a collective $16 million in sales and exports, according to a statement from the EAC secretariat.
MARK-UP I also helped draw in $1 million in investment for over 70 small businesses. Launching the second phase project extension at an Arusha hotel, EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki said it will unlock the full potential of agribusinesses within the EAC.
Its implementation will strengthen EAC’s small businesses through enhanced regional and international trade in close partnership with the East African Business Council (EABC).
The new phase, Dr Mathuki explained, will focus on EAC priority sectors including avocado, cocoa, coffee, essential oils, and French beans.
Other products expected to undergo value addition and processing are gum Arabic, horticulture, leather, packaging, spices, and tea, “with an emphasis on diversification, investment, and export linkages.”
According to the EAC secretariat, crucial to the success of MARK-UP II will be the continued inclusion of women and youth in trade.