East Africa Regional Workshop: Advancing intraregional trade, agricultural productivity, and climate resilience through voluntary sustainability standards (VSSs)

Farmers in Eastern Africa’s agricultural sector face several challenges, including low yields, climate change, and a lack of market access for farmers. To address these challenges, the East African Community (EAC) regional bloc has developed a number of policies that aim to:

  • Improve agricultural productivity through the implementation of good agricultural practices and enhance access to better inputs (seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides);
  • Boost intraregional trade through the harmonization of standards;
  • Enhance climate resilience through the implementation of adaptation initiatives, such as agro-forestry systems and conservation agriculture.

In light of these efforts, the EAC Secretariat and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) convened a regional workshop in Kigali, Rwanda. The event brought together policy-makers, farmers, bodies that set VSSs, researchers, and development partners from East Africa. They discussed how agricultural VSSs employed in the region can support EAC member countries to advance their policy priorities, further their development goals, and enhance market integration.

  • Round table 1 focused on how VSSs can contribute to boosting agricultural productivity and enhancing intraregional trade.
  • Round table 2 focused on how VSSs operating in the region can contribute to helping farmers adapt to climate change.

The discussion was complemented by a presentation of the main findings of IISD’s report on Voluntary Sustainability Standards in East Africa: A Regional Report, which is the result of engagement efforts by IISD, the EAC Secretariat, and various stakeholders working with VSS-compliant operations in East Africa.

The event took place in-person at the Lemigo Hotel alongside the Africa Food Systems Forum (AGRF) 2022 Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, by invitation only.


  • Honourable Christophe Bazivamo, Deputy Secretary General, EAC Secretariat
  • Mr. John Ereng, Rice Cluster Director in East Africa, Rikolto
  • Mr. Andrew Gashayija, Officer in Charge, Kilimo Trust Rwanda
  • Mr. Jean Baptise Havugimana, Director Productive Sectors, EAC Secretariat
  • Mr. Abdelbagi M. Ismail, Principal Scientist, Regional Representative for Africa, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
  • Mr. Ladislaus K. Leonidas, Principal Environment and Natural Resources Officer, Directorate of Productive Sectors, EAC Secretariat
  • Ms. Janet Maro, Executive Director, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania
  • Ms. Wambui Mbarire, Chief Executive Officer, Retail Trade Association of Kenya
  • Ms. Jennifer Mbuvi, Key Account Manager, Global G.A.P
  • Mr. Lazaro Henry Msasalaga, Director of Quality Management, Tanzania Bureau of Standards
  • Mr. Taha Munir, Deputy Managing Director, SWT
  • Mr. Kennedy Musau, Director, Rehani Fresh, Ltd.
  • Mr. Chariton Namuwoza, Chief Executive Officer, National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda
  • Mr. Baker Nasoma, Chairperson, Manafwa Basin Rice Farmers Cooperative Society Ltd.
  • Mr. Jean Calude Rubyogo, Bean Programme Leader & Director, Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA)