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What is the evidence telling us about the progress of P4P?

What’s the minimum capacity that a farmers’ organization requires to become a reliable supplier to WFP? What are the most effective capacity building interventions that farmer’s organizations need to ensure market access? How good is the evidence of the outcomes of P4P interventions in 20 different countries? These were some of the critical questions raised by the Technical Review Panel (TRP) during its 4th annual meeting held in Arusha, Tanzania.

A group of nine external experts, the TRP provides independent guidance and advice on issues related to the implementation of P4P. As part of the 4th annual meeting, TRP members visited cooperatives participating in P4P in Tanzania. Representatives from other buyers, farmers and representatives of the Government of Tanzania also participated in the meeting.

With 18 months left before the end of the five-year pilot period, P4P shared some of the emerging evidence of the pilot and the opportunities the pilot project is creating for smallholder farmers to access more profitable staple commodity markets. The TRP commended the achievements under P4P so far and encouraged WFP to identify which of the pro-smallholder procurement modalities it is piloting have been most effective in enabling farmers to sell their crops through formal markets. A thorough cost-benefit analysis should also be conducted to determine the economic rate of return of each procurement option.

P4P should also contribute to learning on the critical capacities farmers’ organisations require to profitably access markets, the types of training necessary to achieve this and on which service providers have been most successful in supporting the capacity development.

The panel of experts cautioned P4P to maintain stringent standards of data collection and analysis until the end of the pilot. The ability to demonstrate the benefits of this initiative will depend on the availability of high quality data captured throughout the lifespan of the project.

“This is a complex initiative and this meeting provided us a unique opportunity to look at the project from the inside and at great depth. This project has generated a lot of data and it will be a huge undertaking to analyse it”, said Shaun Ferris of Catholic Relief Services. “It is critical to establish priorities for your learning and with the necessary investment and attention in its analysis, you will be able to make a very strong case for local procurement as a development tool.”

The recommendations made in last year’s meeting to focus on sustainability, engagement in policy debates around critical issues such as the quality standards and addressing the needs of women were reiterated. There was also a strong recommendation to ensure farmers equity in terms of project benefits.

Read more on what farmers' think about the progress of P4P here: Tanzania - Farmer's point of view on progress of P4P

Permanent Members of the TRP:

1.    Shukri Ahmed - Food and Agricultural Organization
2.    Shaun Ferris – Catholic Relief Services
3.    Miguel Garcia - Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture
4.    Riikka Rajalahti  - World Bank
5.    Boaz Keizire – Africa Union
6.    Gabriel Pons - OXFAM
7.    Francesco Rispoli - International Fund for Agricultural Development
8.    Maximo Torero – International Food Policy Research Institute 
9.    Dave Tschirley - Michigan State University