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Improving Evidence-Based Decision-Making for Agriculture in Africa

Pile of grain bags available for sale outside a store in Uganda

Tetra Tech is supporting enhanced regional data and analytics on staple crop production, consumption, trade, and prices of agricultural products in East and Southern Africa.

The lack of transparency in agricultural markets is a challenge for farmers, traders, processors, investors, governments, and donors throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. A common set of information about staple crops is essential to improve evidence-based decision-making across different types of organizations and to promote long-term inclusive agricultural transformation, food security, and resilient food systems across Africa. This information is critical in the context of ongoing disruptions in global cereal and crop markets, which trace back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the later conflict in Ukraine.

In addition, climate change is rapidly changing cropping patterns and food trade flows in the greater Horn of Africa region. Within this context, government decision-makers and policy leads often impose trade restrictions without a base of evidence, while private sector organizations struggle to effectively operate in an unpredictable and largely opaque environment.

Between 2021 and 2023 Tetra Tech coordinated, through funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and AGRA, a complex web of seven implementing partner organizations and dozens of stakeholders on the ground within the East and Southern African regions to develop the Regional Food Balance Sheet (RFBS) platform. The RFBS system leverages machine learning and advanced analytics, including from satellite constellations, to produce near real-time and forward-looking food balance estimates in a way not previously possible due to technological and data limitations.

Benefits

  • Building the RFBS minimum viable product through user-centric design

  • Refining the platform through multistakeholder engagement

  • Improving the accessibility of advanced analytics in a data-poor environment

  • Coordinating a complex set of convening, analytics, data, and funding partners

  • Transitioning ownership and management of the RFBS initiative to COMESA

We built the RFBS system through user-centric design to meet the evolving needs of public, private, and civil society users in East and Southern Africa. The platform is designed to be locally owned and operated by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), a key regional player facilitating interstate trade within the region. Following its launch in June 2022, momentum and support for the initiative have continued to build, especially within the project’s focal countries of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia. The platform is now being

used by governments and organizations across East and Southern Africa, as well as by some members of the international donor community. Many users are eager to expand beyond the current geographies and staple commodities of maize, rice, and beans.

To extend the sustainable use and application of the RFBS, Tetra Tech advises and assists COMESA as they take over the day-to-day operations of the RFBS and leadership of key project functions. These include implementing partner coordination, ingestion and quality control of data and estimates from analytical counterparts, development of key messaging and other outputs on the platform, project governance, and financial modeling and planning for the initiative.

At a glance

Contract value

$2.1M across three contract phases

Client

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ARGA

Implementation period

2021–2024

Services

Data management, advanced analytics, project management, product management, software engineering, policy decision-support, trade facilitation

At a glance

Contract Value

$2.1M across three contract phases

Client/Donor

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ARGA

Implementation Period

2021–2024

Services

Data management, advanced analytics, project management, product management, software engineering, policy decision-support, trade facilitation

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