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P4P News

News on Purchase for Progress, both from the projects around the world and from WFP headquarters.

[photo:643975] Insecurity has hindered progress but hasn’t halted it

P4P activities were delayed by the renewal of conflict in late 2013. Implementation began again in April 2014, and is continuing in relatively stable and accessible areas. However, the country’s general instability makes long-term planning challenging.

Small-scale traders and smallholder farmers are both benefitting

P4P has sought alternative solutions to create sustainable links between farmers and markets. For example, small-scale traders have benefited from capacity development efforts, and are now purchasing from smallholder farmers at fair prices, selling to WFP as well as other markets. Some have also provided farmers with inputs, tractor hire services and credit. Sales to WFP through P4P procurement modalities have totalled US$ 564,000, providing smallholders with an incentive to continue improving agricultural production.

[photo:643973] Poor roads make reaching markets a challenge

Smallholders located in rural areas are often unable to reach markets to sell their crops due to a lack of roads. Efforts have been made to link P4P-supported farmers with WFP’s feeder roads operation. Though these efforts have proven challenging, they will be strengthened as P4P is mainstreamed. This will also more fully integrate P4P-supported smallholder farmers into asset creation efforts to improve the condition of community access roads and potentially increase the extent of cultivated land in South Sudan.

Knowledge is being shared amongst farmers

To ensure that information is passed on amongst smallholders, P4P is utilizing training approaches in which participants learn to teach others. Plus, 60 training manuals in post-harvest handling have been distributed. Training posters have been translated into four local languages allowing this information to be disseminated widely beyond the immediate beneficiaries of the training.

WFP is assisting the government to improve crop quality

P4P’s efforts to link smallholders to sustainable markets complement the government’s commitment to invest in agriculture. The Government of South Sudan has been a key partner through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Cooperatives and Rural Development. WFP is also working with the South Sudan National Bureau of Standards to improve commodity quality testing and administration.

Following many years of internal conflict, the Republic of South Sudan gained independence from Sudan through a referendum in July 2011. Today, ongoing insecurity and a lack of infrastructure pose major challenges for the 80 percent of the population who derive their livelihoods from subsistence agriculture and livestock keeping. Read on to learn five facts about progress made and challenges faced by P4P in South Sudan:

The joint UN project Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women (RWEE), is being implemented in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Liberia, Nepal, Niger, Kyrgyzstan and Rwanda. RWEE aims to improve rural women’s food and nutrition security, increase their incomes, enhance their decision-making power and encourage policy environments conducive to their economic empowerment. To reach these objectives, the project leverages each UN agency’s comparative advantages and institutional strengths to generate more sustainable and wider-scale improvements in women’s livelihoods and lives.

Leveraging gains made through P4P

Throughout the five-year P4P pilot period, some 300,000 women farmers were supported to improve their agricultural productivity and increase their incomes. Today, these gains are providing an entry point for RWEE in four countries, with the joint project expanding upon the work done under P4P, more fully integrating assistance from the other UN agencies. WFP contributes to the project with innovative livelihood support initiatives, including P4P. UN Women and FAO bring technical expertise in women’s empowerment and agriculture to the table. IFAD contributes its co-financing of governments’ investment programmes, which have a strong presence in rural areas.

In Liberia, RWEE is reinforcing P4P’s work assisting women farmers to improve agricultural production and market crops collectively through their farmers’ organizations. These women’s groups are also supported to earn income as processors, through the use of rice mills, and have become shareholders in the Afriland First Bank’s Rural Bank Initiative. Unfortunately, the Ebola outbreak has recently posed a challenge to implementation, bringing planned leadership training activities to a standstill. In Ethiopia, 2,000 women farmers are being targeted under RWEE, utilizing a gender plan developed under P4P to support rural women with increased access to financial institutions, agricultural inputs, extension services, technology and agricultural and climate information. Community conversation groups are also being held to raise awareness and encourage the creation of resolutions to address norms that cause gender inequality.

In Guatemala and Rwanda, policy and programmes are being shaped to benefit rural women under RWEE. The Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food (MAGA) and its gender unit are benefitting from gender best practices identified during the implementation of P4P. These are being utilized to create an institutional gender policy, to deliver capacity development for government staff and to provide technical support for rural extension staff, as well as to strengthen participation and empowerment of women in farmers’ organizations. Similarly, in Ethiopia, government organizations are being supported to reform policy in ways that promote women’s rights to land and social protection.

RWEE is being supported by the Government of Norway. Despite great strides made through the programme, the ambitious implementation plan is limited by funding shortfalls.

In seven countries worldwide, WFP’s efforts to empower rural women are being strengthened through a joint UN project with UN Women, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The extensive networks and experience brought by P4P has provided a powerful platform to jointly empower rural women in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Liberia and Rwanda.

Coffee production and export is a vital component of most Latin American economies. This has been negatively affected by coffee rust, a fungus, which reduces yields and crop quality.  Since its outbreak in the region in 2012, coffee rust has caused more than US$ 1 billion in economic damages. These negative impacts are most felt by smallholder family farmers, though entire rural communities are affected.

Coffee rust impacts smallholder farmers

Though P4P focuses on staple crops purchased by WFP, such as maize and beans, coffee rust is affecting P4P-supported smallholder farmers. In Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, many smallholders diversify production with coffee to earn extra income. Farmers also depend on the supplementary income they earn through seasonal labour like cutting coffee, particularly in El Salvador. Coffee rust reduces profits from coffee sales and the need for seasonal labour, diminishing the extra incomes farmers would use to re-invest in staple crop productivity. Plus, P4P-supported farmers’ organizations often include farmers who cultivate coffee, especially in the Honduran department of El Paraiso. In the last planting season, coffee yields in El Paraiso dropped by 60 to 80 percent, leading to decreased earnings for farmers’ organizations. The degree to which this has created difficulties for the repayment of loans is being further assessed. This could lead to financial institutions hesitating to invest in them in the future.

More about coffee rust:

  • Coffee rust is caused by a fungus called Hemileia Vastatrix.
  • It destroys the plants’ leaves, reducing yields and the quality of the fruit.
  • In many cases, coffee rust can devastate entire plantations.
  • Coffee rust has triggered a drop in local coffee prices.
  • Local food markets are also negatively impacted, leading to increased food insecurity.

Capacity development to increase resilience

Farmers’ organizations involved in P4P benefit from training in organizational decision-making, preparing them to better deal with shocks such as coffee rust or other natural disasters. According to engineer Ana Rosa Romero, who provides technical assistance in accreditations and commercialization for the Nicaraguan Cooperative La Union R.L.: “When compared with other cooperatives in the area, I do believe that the capacity building workshops provided by P4P have helped us create a better vision of our organization. The development of capacities and learning of new skills has contributed to a better management of the organization’s resources and has led to a better handling of crises.”

Strengthening efforts moving forward

WFP has responded to the coffee rust crisis in Latin America with some innovative approaches, including cash and vouchers, which allow recipients of food assistance to purchase their own food from local markets. This can benefit local economies and empower people to make their own decisions about what to buy. In Guatemala, WFP is supporting affected farmers and their families with a cash transfer system. In Honduras and El Salvador, families affected by coffee rust receive vouchers, which can be redeemed for food at local shops. Through this programme, P4P-supported smallholder farmers’ organizations have supplied $ 30,000 (30 metric tons) worth of maize and beans, which has been distributed to almost 600 families affected by coffee rust. An additional 15 metric tons will be distributed in the following weeks. This provides an additional market for smallholders’ quality crops, while providing vital food assistance to farmers severely affected by coffee rust. Further efforts are needed to scale up this approach. To decrease the impact of natural disasters and strengthen rural economies, further support is required to increase the resilience of smallholder farmers and their organizations. As P4P is mainstreamed within WFP activities, farmers’ organizations require further support to acquire the skills and assets needed to better respond to shocks.

The coffee rust outbreak devastating crops in Latin America has negatively affected local economies and is limiting smallholders’ ability to reinvest in their staple crop production. Though the increased capacity of smallholder farmers and their organizations enables them to better respond to shocks, the coffee rust outbreak has highlighted the need for increased efforts.

Continue reading to learn five facts about progress made in Mali.

Smallholders are benefiting from financial inclusion.

Farmers’ organizations have facilitated access to credit for their members through the National Bank of Agriculture and various micro-finance institutions using contracts signed with WFP as collateral. This has enabled farmers’ organizations to purchase agricultural inputs such as improved seeds and fertilizer, for use when they are needed most. For many smallholders, this has led to increased production. Scaling up these gains will require further efforts, with many farmers still struggling to access financial institutions.


Women are gaining access to land.

In areas where women have been traditionally unable to own or control land, male family members and local leaders are now supporting them to access land individually and as groups after having seen the many benefits of their economic empowerment.

The Government of Mali is enabling progress.

The government has played a key role in P4P by encouraging the development of farmers’ organizations and creating a favourable policy framework for smallholder farmers. An emphasis on agricultural and rural development is providing an enabling environment for P4P, enacting policies such as the expansion of fertilizer subsidies to include sorghum and millet.


Improving rural livelihoods are increasing the availability of social services.

In Mali, WFP has contracted some US$ 13.5 million worth of commodities from P4P-supported smallholders. In many cases, improvements in local economies and increased incomes can assist farmers to better contribute to local development taxes (some US$ 2 per person). In the Cinzana municipality, tax recovery was 50 to 60 percent before P4P. Now it is at 83 to 86 percent. These taxes are used to construct schools and health centres, directly benefiting communities. In the village of Falema, a community health centre has been built, increasing access to medical services in the rural community.

Improvements in nutrition and agriculture are being linked.

Women have been educated regarding the benefits of consuming the nutrient- and protein-rich local variety of cowpea called niébé, which in the past was almost exclusively grown for sale. Today, more women are using niébé in their own homes, benefiting their family’s nutrition.

In rural areas of Mali, agriculture is the primary source of income. Smallholder farmers contribute to almost 90 percent of the country’s agricultural production, but have historically struggled to access quality markets, generally settling for low farm gate prices. Today, smallholder farmers in Mali are increasingly marketing their crops collectively to WFP and private sector markets, including sales to processing units and milling enterprises. 

The government has started a P4P-like procurement programme.

SONAGESS, the national food reserve of Burkina Faso, has now committed to procuring 30 percent of its food needs from smallholder farmers. Government representatives have also visited Rwanda to learn about Common P4P, the Government of Rwanda’s smallholder-friendly market development programme.

P4P-supported smallholders sold US$ 5.7 million worth of commodities to WFP and other markets.

Crop failures and limited resources have constrained WFP’s ability to buy commodities from P4P-supported smallholders in Burkina Faso. Despite these challenges, small-scale farmers’ organizations have sold some US$ 1.6 million worth of commodities to WFP, and US$ 4.1 million worth of commodities to other private sector and institutional markets.

farmers food waste training burkina faso p4p wfp

New strategies are being used to reduce food losses.

WFP’s action research evaluation trial on “Reducing food losses in sub-Saharan Africa” allowed P4P-supported smallholders in Burkina Faso to significantly reduce food losses during farm-level storage through the use of simple, improved technologies, such as small metal or plastic silos, or hermetic storage bags.

Farmers’ organizations are playing a major part in decision-making.

To improve coordination and collaboration with technical partners, a Stakeholders and Partners Consultation Group was established, in which farmers’ organizations have been active participants. The group is co-chaired by WFP and the government’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

women farmers burkina faso smallholders p4p wfpWomen make up 50 percent of P4P-supported farmers.

Although women in Burkina Faso require further assistance to market their crops profitably, many have been enabled to participate in P4P. WFP is now emphasizing the procurement of crops traditionally controlled by women, such as cowpeas to increase women’s participation.

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P4P has assisted smallholders in Burkina Faso to improve post-harvest handling, increase yields and improve crop quality. This has enabled farmers’ organizations to market their surplus to private sector and institutional markets. Continue reading to learn five facts about progress made in Burkina Faso.

HarvestPlus works to reduce micronutrient deficiencies worldwide by developing and disseminating high yielding staple crops rich in vitamins and minerals. These crops are bred conventionally through a process called biofortification. New evidence has suggested that biofortification can be a particularly effective strategy to reduce micronutrient deficiencies, particularly when it can be complemented by other interventions, such as fortification and supplementation. Micronutrient deficiencies can occur even when individuals have enough staples to eat, but are lacking fruits, vegetables and animal products in their diets. This can lead to stunting, lower resistance to disease and increased risks during childbirth. Because it is a one-time investment, biofortification is considered to be both sustainable and cost-effective. Once seeds are adopted by smallholders, most of these nutritious crops can be grown year after year without requiring additional interventions or cost.

HarvestPlus’s Second Global Conference on Biofortification was hosted by the Government of the Republic of Rwanda from March 31 to April 2, 2014. More than 300 leaders from around the world discussed opportunities and affirmed commitments to scale up efforts to improve nutrition by increasing access to biofortified crops.

Increasing access to nutritious staples

To date, P4P has developed a partnership with HarvestPlus in three of their target countries: Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia. To increase the amount of seed in circulation, smallholders are participating in multiplication activities, growing the biofortified crops and selling part back to HarvestPlus for re-distribution. They are also retaining a portion for household consumption. Since 2012, 19 farmers’ organizations in Rwanda have been involved in multiplying Iron Beans, selling some 210 metric tons (mt) (210,000 kg) back to HarvestPlus and 77 mt (77,000 kg) to WFP. The production of biofortified crops provides smallholders with a source of increased income. It also has the potential to improve their nutrition, as well as that of their families and communities, by introducing micronutrient-rich foods to their diets.

In Zambia, Vitamin A Maize is being multiplied by smallholder farmers’ organizations with the support of HarvestPlus. In 2013, 6 mt (6,000 kg) of biofortified maize was supplied to six schools through WFP’s school feeding programme to test its acceptability. While the maize was well received, greater quantities of seed are required to scale up efforts. In order to catalyse production, partner organizations have also linked smallholders’ surplus orange maize to millers through the AgResults programme, which promotes the consumption of industrially produced orange maize meal. In Uganda, HarvestPlus is supporting farmers to grow Iron Beans and Vitamin A Sweet Potatoes. Some of these farmers are also participating in P4P. 

Quick facts about HarvestPlus:

Increasing demand through awareness-raising

Unlike Iron Beans, the biofortification process causes crops such as maize and sweet potatoes change flavour and colour, becoming more orange. This may pose a challenge when introducing the unfamiliar variety into communities’ diets. In Zambia, a government-led awareness-raising campaign was fundamental to overcoming this challenge. When introducing orange maize to the home grown school feeding programme, WFP, in collaboration with HarvestPlus, held cooking demonstrations at school and community levels to illustrate the benefits of orange biofortified maize in comparison to the traditional white variety. These efforts proved successful, as the schools later requested orange maize seeds, which were donated by HarvestPlus for planting in their school gardens. Studies have shown that the orange colour of the maize does not pose a significant challenge to its acceptance when nutrition education is provided.

The importance of government ownership

P4P has learned about how to encourage the production and consumption of nutritious biofortified foods by working with smallholder farmers. Raising awareness about the advantages of nutritious crops has been particularly effective when health benefits are explained during training on agricultural production. As seen in Zambia, government involvement, particularly in advocacy efforts, is vital to the initiative’s success and can ensure its sustainability.

The Government of Rwanda illustrated their continued commitment to nutrition-sensitive agriculture by hosting the Second Annual Conference on Biofortification, where Prime Minister Pierre Habumuremyi said:  “Our time is now, to scale up what we know works to end hunger and malnutrition because we have the resources, tools and evidence at our disposal.”

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In Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia, P4P is collaborating with HarvestPlus and national governments to increase the availability of micronutrient-rich staple foods. In these countries, P4P-supported smallholders have begun to cultivate Iron Beans, Vitamin A Maize and Vitamin A Sweet Potato, benefitting from improved nutrition and increased incomes from selling their produce, which is then used as seed or in school meals programmes.

P4P has worked to support agricultural cooperatives with capacity development in both agricultural best practices and organizational management and business skills. Throughout the pilot period (2008-2013), P4P has supported farmers’ organizations in 20 countries. The size and capacity of P4P-supported FOs varies widely from one country to another and includes a variety of structures, from small grassroots organizations to large farmers’ federations.

Examples of P4P efforts highlighted in local media on the International Day of Cooperatives:

In Rwanda, P4P has collaborated with FAO and IFAD to develop smallholder farmers’ cooperatives capacities in storage, marketing, financial management, and institutional strengthening. One smallholder benefitting from this work is a 46-year old mother of four named Murekatete Patricia. Patricia joined a cooperative in 2012, and after receiving training in post-harvest handling and storage, was able to market her maize collectively in order to make over US$ 1000. Read the article here

In Malawi, the home grown school feeding programme sources some of its food from smallholder farming cooperatives. This encourages student enrolment and ensures that schoolchildren have adequate nutrition. It also supports smallholder farmers by providing them with an assured market for their crops. One family benefits doubly from this programme. Through her farmers’ organization, Clara Bamusi markets her food to the school feeding programme, increasing her income, and providing part of the meals her daughter receives at school. “The greatest benefit has been the reliable market,” says Clara. “With my earnings I bought double the fertilizer and hybrid seed, and because of these inputs I was able to grow and harvest 65 more bags of maize this year compared to last.” Read the article here

For more details about how P4P has worked with farmers’ organizations during the pilot period, read the Final Consolidated Farmers’ Organizations and Capacity Development Report (January 2009 – December 2013)

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The 20th International Day of Cooperatives was celebrated on 5 July, 2014, emphasizing the important role which cooperatives play in sustainable development. Cooperatives are powerful tools which can be utilized by smallholder farmers to participate in formal markets. Because of their ability to organize farmers, P4P has used farmers’ organizations as an entry point, supporting smallholders to better access financial services, agricultural inputs, and equipment, and aggregate and market crops. According to FAO, one of the key organizers behind the International Day of Co-operatives: “cooperatives and producer organizations can play a key role in rural development and building a food secure world for all.” 

P4P in El Salvador focuses on capacity-building and strengthening farmers’ organizations. Due to reduced food assistance requirements, WFP does not constitute a significant market for P4P-supported organizations. Therefore, P4P focuses on strengthening relationships with private sector buyers, including agroindustry and retail markets, and carries out negotiation rounds to teach farmers’ organizations how to meet buyers’ requirements and to negotiate input purchases. Farmers’ organizations have also strengthened relationships with both private sector input suppliers and financial institutions. The Government’s new “Plan de Agricultura Familiar” (PAF), the Family Agriculture Plan, which is inspired by the P4P concept, also presents market opportunities for P4P-supported farmers’ organizations.

Click here to read the two-pager about P4P in El Salvador.


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P4P-supported smallholder farmers in El Salvador have sold an estimated US$ 2,750,000 (5,866 mt) worth of commodities to sustainable markets including the agroindustry and retail markets. Despite these successes, further efforts are needed to increase national purchases from smallholders, and to support farmers to aggregate and market crops through their organizations. Read the P4P in El Salvador fact sheet to learn more.

In June, PAA Africa hosted an  Institutional Markets Knowledge Sharing Seminar in Addis where P4P and other partners met to discuss smallholder procurement and share lessons learned.

The initiative, which was inspired by Brazil’s national Programa de Aquisição de Alimentos (Food Purchase Programme), also aligns with WFP’s Home Grown School Feeding programme, in which commodities are often purchased from local smallholder farmers using P4P modalities. These efforts maximize programme benefits as they can not only improve small-scale family farmers’ access to institutional markets, but also encourage school attendance and improve pupils’ food security. PAA Africa has proven to be an excellent opportunity to strengthen collaboration with African governments and civil society, leading to greater sustainability of WFP’s smallholder procurement initiatives.

PAA Africa is being piloted in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger and Senegal since February 2012. Following an 18 month start-up phase, a further five year phase was launched in January 2014. WFP and FAO jointly support the implementation of PAA Africa with financial sponsorship from the Government of Brazil and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). In order to assist smallholder farmers to produce surplus of high quality crops and fresh food items, FAO facilitates access to inputs, and provides training in best agricultural practices and post-harvest handling. Building on lessons learned through P4P, demand for government and WFP’s school feeding programme provides the smallholders with an assured market, which can act as an incentive for them to invest in production.

Sustainable solutions to hunger and poverty

In order for local procurement initiatives to be sustainable, farmers must be able to access quality markets beyond WFP. In a video message to participants in June’s workshop, WFP’s Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said “The role of PAA-Africa is vital, as it is showcasing sustainable and innovative models for smallholder procurement that we can and will expand.” The added value of PAA Africa lies in the creation of innovative models to build sustainable institutional markets. For example, in Ethiopia and Malawi, funds have been transferred to district departments of education or directly to schools to manage procurement activities, purchasing food directly from local farmers’ organizations. PAA Africa continues providing them with support that fosters government ownership and builds local capacity. Government ownership and enthusiasm has been further strengthened through visits to Brazil where African leaders have been invited to learn from the Brazilian PAA model.

Drawing from the expertise of Brazil’s widely acclaimed national local procurement programme, five African countries are piloting their own indigenous models. This small-scale pilot project known as PAA Africa, is implemented by FAO, WFP, local governments, and the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since its inception in 2012, PAA Africa has developed a complimentary approach to P4P, promoting the use of food items purchased from local smallholder farmers in WFP and government-run school feeding programmes.

Overview - P4P in Uganda

In Uganda, P4P focuses on strengthening the capacity of farmers’ organizations to aggregate and sell commodities to quality buyers, such as WFP, local millers, traders for export and others. Through partnerships with the government, indigenous and international NGOs, and other partners, P4P has provided smallholder farmers with the necessary training and equipment to increase their production, improve crop quality and strengthen the marketing capacity of farmers’ organizations. P4P is promoting Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) to facilitate credit access among P4P-supported farmers’ organizations.

P4P also seeks to connect farmers’ organizations with institutional and private sector buyers that can provide an assured source of demand beyond WFP. This approach has built on WFP Uganda’s Agriculture and Market Support (AMS) project to enhance prospects for sustainability.

In Uganda, P4P has supported infrastructure improvements to facilitate smallholders’ aggregation of commodities and collective sales. Meanwhile, many challenges remain, especially related to crop quality and standards. Read the P4P in Uganda fact sheet to learn more.