By Dorothy Nakaweesi
Lack of information to local, regional and international markets is one of the biggest challenges small agro-food suppliers are experiencing, thereby missing out on contracts offered by large retail outlets and hotel chains.

In trying to close this gap, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) business council (CBC) through a ‘Local Sourcing for Partnerships Project (LSP) training phase two, will teach small suppliers on how to access these markets.
According to Ms Sandra Uwera, the CBC executive director, the second training phase which is on at Kampala Serena Hotel today, Friday, will see selected suppliers be mentored on closing these market gaps. The programme is supported by the Private Sector Foundation Uganda.
“The main objective of this training is to create market linkages between the selected suppliers and the key buyers. Business to business meetings will be arranged to facilitate one-on-one interaction between buyers and suppliers,” Ms Uwera said.
The training
LSP is designed to build capacity of 480 suppliers from six countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia in food safety and quality management standards.
Ms Uwera said suppliers will also be provided with a physical and virtual platform for market linkages and further integrate them into national and regional supply chains.

“The objective of this project is to increase local sourcing from SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) growth by multinational companies in Comesa region in order to create jobs and economic development,” Ms Pauline Kibugi, CBC-LPS project manager, said.
Ms Kibugi said the goal of the project is to build inclusive growth of SMEs in businesses, establish job creation and improve trade in Comesa.

“Phase one training focused on food safety management systems, among other things,” Ms Kibugi noted.
Mr Julius Oboth the national business consultant LSP project in Uganda,said: “Respecting the health standards along the value chain is key if you want to close the market gaps. How you brand or present your products and respect hygiene is one aspect that will attract you to the buyers.”