“People say Rwanda is a country of a thousand hills, to me Rwanda is a land of a thousand things to learn on economic development,” said Richard Barwecho Rono, who represented Lolgorian farmers’ organization in the Kenyan delegation. Together with government, farmers’ organizations and WFP representatives from Ghana, the delegation spent a week during August in Rwanda, familiarizing themselves with Common P4P (CP4P). The purpose of the mission was for the civil society partners and governments from the two countries to learn from Rwanda’s experience and to understand the evolution of the government’s ownership of the initiative.
In total, 20 representatives from farmers’ organizations, WFP and government in the two countries participated in the exchange visit.
These are comments from some of the participants:
"One of the lessons which we can take home is the involvement in decisions between the people and the government, from the community level up to the central ministry,” said Charles Adams, director of agricultural extension services of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Ghana.
“The government of Rwanda has created an excellent environment for linking farmers to markets. This makes it easier for all actors, including the private sector, to contribute to the goals of P4P. Although this may be difficult to replicate in Kenya, we have an opportunity to advocate with newly established county governments to create a similar environment,” said Zippy Mbati, P4P country coordinator in Kenya.
“I was extremely impressed that the government had been involved in the P4P initiative right from the planning stage and was still very active in its implementation, linking farmers with suppliers of fertilizer and improved seeds, and helping them find new markets,” said Magdalena Moshi, deputy country director WFP Ghana. “We have taken a cue from them to involve our government partners more closely".
“With the new dispensation of county governments in Kenya we can emulate the model of Rwanda where 40 percent of the national reserves are procured locally from smallholders' cooperations. With inspiration from the Rwandan model, Kenya can formulate policies that will encourage such national purchases from small scale farmers in structured markets,”, said Moses Kamau Mwangi, senior assistant director, State Department of Agriculture in Kenya.
“I am impressed that the Rwandan government makes an agreement with farmers on the amount of land to be cultivated on a certain crop and in that way provides a guaranteed market for the harvest,” said Abraham Kigotho, chairman of Wamuini Soko Huru farmers’ organization in Kenya.
Samuel Adjei, P4P Ghana, was also enthusiastic after the mission: “The Rwandan government has demonstrated a true paradigm shift in agricultural development by moving away from the traditional widely practiced top-bottom approach to a bottom-up approach where the farmer is in the driving seat. This is worth emulating in Ghana”.
In Rwanda, the P4P initiative was launched in August 2009 with the selection of 25 cooperatives located mainly in the Eastern and Northern provinces of the country, representing over 14,000 farmers comprising of 6,500 women and 7,600 men.
The launch of P4P in Rwanda coincided with a number of major national initiatives. These included: the country’s Crop Intensification Programme (CIP) (2007-2010); the set-up of the Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA) in 2007; the Post Harvest Task Force (PHTF) in 2010; and the launch of the National Post-Harvest Staple Crop Strategy (NPHSC) in 2011. These initiatives were followed by the government’s announcement in 2011 to proactively target agricultural cooperatives in the procurement of up to 40 percent of the public sector’s staple grain requirements, with an initial focus on the National Strategic Reserve (NSR).
Under the aegis of these programmes, in an effort to transform the agriculture sector and improve the collective marketing and bargaining power of smallholders in agricultural value chains, the Rwandan government has focused on land consolidation, increasing production, reducing post-harvest losses and strengthening smallholder cooperatives.
By June 2013, WFP had purchased over 7,000 metric tons of maize and beans worth US$3 million from smallholder farmers in 20 cooperatives.
To consolidate progress and learning for its initiatives, the Rwandan government looked to the experiences and approach of WFP’s P4P pilot. This provided them with an already tested strategy, set of tools and embedded capacity building programme for procuring directly from smallholder-based organizations. Within this context, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) and WFP in July 2011 to collaborate on an initiative entitled Common P4P. Core to the government of Rwanda’s adaptation of P4P was the concept of leveraging the institutional purchasing power of a large and reputable buyer as an incentive for stimulating production and for bringing smallholder collective capacity to a standard where they can interact professionally with other large buyers.
The institutionalization and sustainability of the P4P approach through CP4P, builds on existing methods, tools and lessons and is reinforced by coordination mechanisms across Ministries, in particular MINAGRI and the Ministries of Commerce and Education, as well as the Rwanda Cooperative Agency and ongoing agricultural support schemes such as the CIP and PHTF.
So far, over 20,000 farmers from 54 cooperatives registered under CP4P, have received training on post-harvest handling and storage from P4P and its partners. Meanwhile, the Rwandan government purchases its food from a larger number of smallholder cooperatives across the country. Between 2011 and 2013, procurement by the National Strategic Reserve from cooperatives under CP4P totals over 6,100 metric tons and continues to increase.