Sign up today to join our online community, receive email alerts, and make a difference!

P4P News

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

In Afghanistan, P4P has emphasized linking local agricultural production with efforts to improve nutrition. A variety of efforts are being undertaken to accomplish this goal, including the introduction of Afghanistan’s first mobile biscuit factory composed of seven containers shipped from Italy. The factory was assembled and installed in Jalalabad, and is sourcing wheat for biscuit production from Afghani smallholder farmers. WFP is collaborating with a local company which manages the factory through a commercially-based joint venture.

Improving local economies

Due to a lack of infrastructure to produce biscuits, the Afghan market is dominated by imported products. The mobile biscuit factory was introduced in an area where no capacity to produce biscuits existed previously. The initiative aims to develop the local economy and increase the availability of locally-produced fortified food both for sale on the market and WFP’s needs. The factory is sourcing part of the soy and wheat used to make HEB from smallholder farmers participating in P4P, providing them with a sustainable market for their produce. Micronutrient-fortified flour is sourced from national mills. The mobile biscuit factory also provides job opportunities for 30 people.

Factory manager Dildar Khan Shinwari says: “My team is learning valuable skills which they can retain and pass on to others.” He explains that the high quality standards expected from WFP are helping him build a commercially viable business for the local market. “We are learning a lot from WFP, and we are beginning to see the return on our investment.”

So far, US$ 670,000-worth (400 metric tons) of biscuits have been produced in the mobile biscuit factory. WFP purchased US$ 607,000-worth (370 metric tons) for use in emergency response. A communication campaign is planned to be undertaken in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health to promote the benefits of consuming fortified nutritious foods, including HEB.

An innovative solution to improve nutrition

The pioneering design of the mobile biscuit factory is a step towards creating a more sustainable supply of locally-produced nutritious food. The containerized design allows them to be used in a variety of rural or conflict environments, where lack of infrastructure might otherwise make it difficult to produce fortified foods locally. The factories are designed to take up minimal space and be installed quickly. They can be implemented in regions for medium to long term, or can be deployed to different regions of the country as needed. These containerized factories can be installed and operated by WFP, or, as is the case in Afghanistan, in joint venture with a commercial operator.

Lessons learned from a difficult task

Upon the arrival of the factory in Jalalabad, WFP and its private partner faced a number of technical challenges that delayed start-up. Given the lack of available expertise a food technologist worked with the team in-country to resolve these issues. The technologist developed a comprehensive plan to maximise efficiency and production, optimize the nutritional value and maximise profits. The main lesson learned was the need for a monitoring system to put all parts through a detailed evaluation to resolve all technical difficulties before shipping to a remote location.

One of the greatest challenges faced in Afghanistan is a lack of security. Unexpected events may disrupt work schedules, causing difficulties for the biscuit factory and limiting production.

Article by Ranait Feeney

Read more about the mobile biscuit factory and P4P’s efforts to link local agricultural production with nutrition in Afghanistan:

Biscuit Factory-In-A-Box Shows Its Value In Afghanistan

Soya production in Afghanistan supports P4P efforts to improve nutrition

In Afghanistan, P4P has introduced a mobile factory to produce High Energy Biscuits (HEB) to reduce malnutrition, boost the local economy and provide smallholder farmers with a sustainable market. Though the new technology faced challenges in the start-up phase, it is now producing nutritious biscuits for sale on the local market and use in WFP emergency response.

In 2013 alone, WFP bought around US$ 1.16 billion worth of food for cash, some 80 percent of which came from developing countries (including large regional purchases in India, South Africa and Turkey). Traditionally, this food has been purchased from pre-qualified large-scale suppliers through competitive tenders, ensuring that WFP purchases the greatest quantity of food at the best price in a timely fashion. The P4P pilot has enabled WFP to try out new ways of leveraging its procurement footprint to promote agricultural and market development, experimenting with smallholder-friendly procurement models which extend the benefits of WFP procurement to smallholder farmers.

P4P recently released the Final Consolidated Procurement Report (2008-2013). During the pilot, WFP bought US$ 148 million-worth of food more directly from smallholder farmers, who also sold an additional US$ 60 million-worth of food to markets beyond WFP. Across the 20 pilot countries, WFP’s pro-smallholder procurement increased from 8 percent of all locally procured commodities in 2009, to 22 percent in 2013. These have been key achievements particularly because most farmers and organizations were not marketing collectively before working with P4P. These local purchases have also reduced costs for WFP: throughout the pilot period, some US$ 42 million were saved as compared to importing the same food commodities.

Aggregating crops for collective sales

Because smallholder farmers cultivate small plots of land, even with support to increase their agricultural productivity, they are generally unable to produce enough to interest large buyers who purchase food in bulk. This, coupled with the fact that farmers are dispersed in rural areas, requires them to work together. Because of this, P4P and partners have supported smallholder farmers to market their crops collectively through farmers’ organizations to access formal markets and earn better prices, for better quality, at the same prices that WFP would have paid to large traders. 58 percent of food bought under P4P (US$ 90 million-worth) was procured directly from farmers’ organizations.

In Ethiopia, Malawi and Zambia, WFP purchased food through commodity exchanges, where smallholder farmers through their organizations bid on contracts to provide commodities to buyers, including WFP. Purchases have also been made through warehouse receipt systems, which are emerging as innovative ways for smallholder farmers to market their crops. In countries like Tanzania and Rwanda, P4P has linked smallholder farmers’ organizations to the government’s strategic grain reserves, from which WFP buys food. P4P has also built the capacity of small and medium traders to buy from smallholder farmers.

Smallholder-friendly procurement modalities

WFP procured crops from P4P-supported smallholder farmers using various smallholder-friendly procurement modalities selected based upon the capacity of suppliers. Direct contracts have been used to provide lower-capacity farmers’ organizations with experience aggregating and marketing their crops collectively. Prices and quantities are negotiated directly with farmers’ organizations, based upon market prices for similar quality products on the open market. By building farmers’ organization capacity, direct contracts help them move toward more competitive tendering processes.

Soft competitive tenders have provided farmers’ organizations with tangible experience and the skills required to sell competitively to buyers beyond WFP. Farmers’ organizations compete with one another to bid for WFP contracts, in a process similar to traditional competitive tenders, though some requirements are modified. For example, while smallholders must meet WFP’s strict food quality standards, WFP can provide them with bags if needed, deducting the cost from the final payment.

Commodities were also purchased using forward delivery contracts (FDCs), negotiated before planting or before harvest, with an agreed floor price. Prices can then be renegotiated closer to delivery based upon current market prices. FDCs provide farmers with an assured market, helping them plan their production and marketing, and can be used as collateral for credit from banks or other financial service providers. In addition, blended food has been purchased from millers or agro-processors who source raw materials from smallholder farmers. This assists smallholders gain access to a sustainable market beyond WFP.

Diverse crops for WFP programmes

While WFP predominantly purchased maize grain under P4P modalities, commodities diversified throughout the course of the pilot. To enhance the participation of women farmers, WFP began focusing more on pulses. In many contexts, women traditionally grow and market peas and beans – such as cowpeas in West Africa – while men are often responsible for marketing cereal crops such as maize. These commodities have been used for WFP food assistance, mainly within the country where it was purchased, including school meals, food for assets or nutrition programmes or rations for refugees or vulnerable populations.

Addressing challenges with defaults

Side-selling and contract adherence were key challenges faced by P4P, due to difficulties smallholders sometimes faced meeting quantity and quality standards. While WFP has adjusted procurement practices to facilitate the participation of smallholder farmers, it cannot compromise on quality standards. Partners provided on-going capacity development to improve agricultural production, post-harvest handling and organizational management to address challenges. Defaults due to quality on contracts signed under P4P modalities decreased from 22 percent in 2010 to 9 percent in 2013.

For five years, the P4P pilot has experimented with innovative procurement modalities, allowing WFP to purchase staple food commodities more directly from low-income smallholder farmers.

PAA Africa is a collaborative project undertaken by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), WFP, the governments of Brazil and the United Kingdom, and the governments of each pilot country: Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger and Senegal. WFP has used technical expertise gained and lessons learned through P4P and home-grown school feeding programmes to manage the procurement of food from smallholder farmers in partnership with governments for school meal programmes.

Innovations at the local level

The PAA Africa Phase I Learning and Results Report describes some of the innovative models for school feeding which have been tested to contribute to: “the handover efforts of home-grown school feeding programmes to governments, by facilitating government’s engagement and ownership of local purchase initiatives.”

Many of these innovations were made in new procurement modalities. For example, in Ethiopia, funds for procurement were transferred by WFP to the government’s Regional Office of Education. Food was then purchased from a P4P-supported cooperative union for delivery to schools. In Malawi, WFP transferred funds to District Councils, which channelled them to schools to manage food purchases. In Mozambique, a decentralized model was tested, with WFP signing agreements directly with P4P-supported farmers’ associations to supply the programme. The PAA purchases allowed for the provision of school meals for 128,000 students, using 1,000 metric tons of food purchased locally.

Farmers in all of the pilot countries benefited from capacity development delivered by FAO in food production, harvest and post-harvest techniques. This has enabled farmers to produce greater quantities of higher quality food, with average productivity rates reportedly increasing by some 115 percent amongst participating farmers.

Successful results to inform second phase

The report highlights achievements in strengthening inter-agency collaboration and fostering government ownership. For example, PAA Africa has been adopted as part of Malawi’s national strategy to strengthen school feeding coverage. In other pilot countries, governments are adopting approaches piloted under PAA Africa in diverse ways, increasingly engaging with and taking ownership of local purchase programmes to benefit smallholder farmers.

Though innovative procurement modalities have proven effective in supporting the purchase of food from smallholder farmers for use in school feeding projects, further adaptations and improvements are needed. Contract terms, payment mechanisms and timing require further evaluation and strengthening to better foster farmers’ participation.

The second phase of PAA Africa began in 2014, to strengthen pilot projects and increase dialogue on policy and programming. It seeks to expand and consolidate local food purchases in national contexts.

To learn more about the first phase of PAA Africa, download the PAA Africa Phase I Learning and Results Report. The full report is available in Portuguese and English, as is the “PAA Africa at a Glance” fact sheet (Portuguese).



Purchase from Africans for Africa (PAA Africa) – a pilot project inspired by the Brazilian learning on institutional food procurement – recently released a report on the lessons learned from the first phase of implementation. This report details the joint efforts in five countries to increase smallholder farmers’ access to markets while improving the food security of students.

The rationale behind P4P is to link WFP’s demand for staple food commodities, such as cereals, pulses and blended foods, with the technical expertise of a wide range of partners. This collaboration provides smallholders with the skills and knowledge to improve their agricultural productivity and an incentive to do so, as they have an assured market in which to sell their surplus crops.

So far, P4P has reached more than 1 million farmers in 20 diverse countries. However, the benefits of smallholder-friendly procurement models are widely extended by catalysing further investment by the public and private sectors. While P4P has showcased this potential, a global scale-up of support to family farmers is necessary to improve food security and promote inclusive growth.

To best inform future efforts, P4P has emphasized an honest and transparent examination of what works and what does not. Throughout the five-year pilot, P4P has studied and documented the most effective ways of linking smallholder farmers’ organizations to formal markets, and how an institutional procurement footprint can be leveraged to promote sustainable agricultural and market development.

Partnerships along the value chain

[photo|644256] An essential part of P4P’s work has been coordinating and facilitating some 500 partnerships across the staple food supply chain in the 20 pilot countries. These partnerships have supported smallholders to access the skills and resources needed to most effectively market their crops to formal markets. Partners include host and donor governments, non-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies, academic institutions, research bodies and private sector partners. Two key WFP partners throughout the P4P implementation have been the United Nations Food and

Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). FAO facilitated smallholders’ access to agricultural inputs and training, whileIFAD supported representatives from farmers’ organizations and partners in their negotiations with financial institutions where programmes aligned.

Due to deeply-rooted challenges faced by rural smallholder farmers, capacity development efforts are vital to linking them to markets. Thanks to active engagement with partners, nearly 800,000 farmers, agricultural technicians, warehouse operators and small and medium traders have been trained in a variety of topics. These include improved agricultural productivity, post-harvest handling, quality assurance, group marketing and business management.

By bringing WFP’s demand for quality food into the equation, P4P has been able to enhance partners’ capacity development efforts by providing smallholders with a tangible market opportunity. This has provided an incentive to learn new skills and stimulated investment to enhance agricultural productivity. The assured market presented by WFP also ensures that smallholders can sell their quality surplus for premium prices, and don’t risk losing on their investments. During the pilot period, WFP contracted over 450,000 metric tons of food commodities, valued at more than US$177 million, using procurement modalities that address the various marketing constraints of smallholder farmers. The majority of the food was purchased through farmers’ organizations, but some quantities also came from small and medium-sized traders and marketing platforms such as commodity exchanges and warehouse receipt systems.

While the need for capacity development is often extensive, the overall P4P experience has shown that when smallholder farmers see the benefits of engaging with formal markets and are provided with appropriate support, they will seize market opportunities and respond to quality demands. Not only have P4P-participating smallholders sold to WFP, but with the technical know-how and confidence built from these sales, they have also marketed more than 150,000 metric tons of quality commodities to other institutional and private sector markets, valued at an estimated US$63 million.

Government engagement

[photo|644266]Almost without exception, pilot country governments have embraced the P4P concept. Their engagement and the presence of an enabling environment has proven to be vital for effectively linking smallholder farmers to markets. The methods tested through P4P have presented governments with innovative tools to support smallholder farmers, with a number already developing initiatives modelled after or similar to P4P.

The Government of Rwanda has taken ownership of the P4P project through the creation of a government-run initiative called Common P4P (CP4P). CP4P is implemented through the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, which buys up to 40 per cent of the requirements of the National Strategic Grain Reserve from smallholder farmers’ organizations. P4P’s role has been to support the Government to design a programme which best fits the country’s needs, while mobilizing partners to train participating farmers in post-harvest handling and storage. The successful adaptation of smallholder-friendly procurement models has led the Rwandan Government to host several exchange visits from countries including Burkina Faso, Ghana and Kenya. Today, the Government of Burkina Faso is beginning to implement a project similar to P4P, with the national food reserve committing to procure 30 per cent of its purchases from smallholder farmers’ organizations.

In Ethiopia, the Government has made programmes such as P4P central to national policies, enhancing opportunities for smallholder farmers. Through partnerships coordinated by the Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agency, P4P provides the platform around which to effectively coordinate the support needed to build smallholder farmers’ capacity to engage in structured markets. With its creation, an effective mechanism was formed that brought together several important players supporting the maize value chain. The Government of Ethiopia has recognized maize as vital to economic growth and development in the country.

In Ethiopia, Malawi and Mozambique, government partnerships are further strengthened through the Purchase for Africans from Africans (PAA Africa) programme, which is jointly implemented by FAO and WFP. PAA Africa was inspired by Brazil’s national Programa de Aquisição de Alimentos (Food Purchase Programme). In these countries, as well as in non-P4P countries Niger and Senegal, smallholders are supported to market a variety of fresh and staple crops to home-grown school feeding programmes. This has contributed to the testing of innovative financial models. For example, in Ethiopia and Malawi, funds have been transferred from WFP to district departments of education or schools, allowing them to purchase food directly from local farmers’ organizations.

Triggering innovation

[photo|644258]P4P has provided the impetus for public, private and civil society actors to leverage their investments to better respond to the needs and potential of smallholder farmers, and has proven that linking them to formal markets is a viable investment. Emerging evidence now shows that a wide variety of stakeholders, including governments, financial institutions and local leaders, have recognized the value of these investments, benefiting smallholder farmers, their organizations and communities in various ways.

Microfinance institutions, banks, input suppliers, WFP and other partners have now collaborated to make financial services available and affordable in remote areas. New solutions include providing smallholders with financial management and literacy training, as well as the use of food supply contracts and warehouse receipts as collateral for loans. Thanks to these initiatives, farmers’ organizations have been able to facilitate access to credit for their members and to acquire productive resources, enabling them to produce larger quantities of high quality food and to aggregate and market crops collectively. Forward delivery contracts (FDCs) have proven effective in several countries. The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia has endorsed FDCs as loan qualifying criteria, enabling cooperative unions in Ethiopia to access credit where they were often unable to previously. FDCs have also been used in other P4P pilot countries, allowing farmers’ organizations to access credit at favourable interest rates.

Agriculture, nutrition and gender

[photo|644257]Women face many challenges that can preclude them from independently owning or managing land and productive assets. In many households, men control the production and marketing of crops as well as household finances. The P4P pilot specifically targeted women farmers in order to address the particular difficulties they face, with an ambitious goal to have 50 per cent women participants. While P4P succeeded in tripling women’s participation in P4P-supported farmers’ organizations during the pilot period, the experience demonstrated that mere numerical participation does not directly translate into a positive impact on the lives of women farmers, nor provide them with the same financial gains as their male counterparts.

Rather, P4P found that a variety of interventions were necessary to empower women farmers, including context-specific action plans, new methods for targeting women farmers, including men in gender sensitization efforts and providing women with time- and labour-saving technology. In many cases, these efforts have assisted women to gain increased voice and greater decision-making ability in their homes and communities. Though these efforts yielded results, in countries such as Ethiopia, cultural barriers and traditional land tenure make it difficult for women to profit from their work. Ensuring that women benefit economically from P4P has been especially challenging in cases in which women are not heads of households.

Through P4P and partners’ efforts, agricultural development and nutrition have been linked, facilitating sustainable improvements within rural households and communities. Nutrition-sensitive approaches include improving smallholders’ agricultural production, empowering women, supporting resilience and providing access to nutrition education. In countries such as Afghanistan and Guatemala, P4P-supported smallholders market their crops to processors and millers for the creation of fortified flour and nutritious foods such as high-energy biscuits. Government investment has been vital to these efforts, as has the involvement of the private sector, which has committed to making purchases to best benefit smallholder farmers.

Poor crop quality can have a negative impact on health and nutrition. The consumption of the toxic chemical compound aflatoxin is particularly dangerous, as it can cause liver cancer and may also be linked to stunting in children. Inadequate crop quality initially posed a major challenge for WFP purchases from smallholder farmers. However, WFP’s insistence on quality standards generated results, leading to a decrease in overall default rates by farmers’ organizations, which improved the quality of their crops. Many smallholders and their families previously consumed the low quality grain they were unable to sell. However, thanks to awareness-raising campaigns on the dangers of doing so, P4P observed a reduction in this practice.

In Kenya, WFP’s high quality standards triggered investment in the development of low-cost methods for reducing occurrences of aflatoxin. On national and regional levels, continuous advocacy for the enforcement of national quality standards, the establishment of quality monitoring protocols and the adoption of best practices are critical. One of the innovative tools created to address food quality and safety was the Blue Box, a portable field testing kit which allows farmers’ organizations in remote rural areas to avoid the costly and time-consuming process of sending their crops off for quality testing.

Moving forward

[photo|644269]While significant accomplishments and learning have been generated by the P4P pilot, further support is needed to overcome the many complex, contextual and operational challenges. Lessons learned throughout the pilot implementation period have identified priority investment areas to more effectively and sustainably connect smallholder farmers to formal markets. Smallholder farmers’ technical skills and organizational capacity must be at the centre of investment, while investing in policy and institutional reform is essential for future programming.

Though the five-year P4P pilot treatment period concluded in December 2013, efforts to support smallholders will continue as WFP mainstreams key innovations and best practices. In the 2014-2017 Strategic Plan, WFP has committed to further increasing the amount of food it buys from smallholder farmers, and working with governments and private sector buyers to support these farmers to access sustainable markets beyond WFP.

The WFP commitment to support smallholder farmers is global, but the potential impacts of linking smallholders to formal markets can be seen most clearly in Africa. Across the continent, demand for quality food commodities is rising, driven by rapid urbanization, income growth and the increased consumption of processed foods and livestock products. Currently, the majority of these quality food commodities are imported from outside Africa. With the majority of sub-Saharan Africa employed in agriculture, assisting family farmers to access growing quality markets has the potential to create more inclusive growth. Investments in smallholder-friendly procurement can directly contribute to improving food security, boosting local economies, lowering unemployment and decreasing poverty.

By Ken Davies, Global Coordinator, Purchase for Progress (P4P)

As the world’s largest humanitarian agency, the World Food Programme (WFP) is a major buyer of staple food. In 2013 alone, WFP bought some US$1.16 billion worth of commodities, 80 per cent of which were supplied by traders in developing countries, injecting revenue into local economies. To explore the best ways of extending these economic benefits to small-scale farm families and their communities, WFP launched the Purchase for Progress (P4P) pilot in September 2008. 

[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 in Western, Central and Eastern Equatoria States. 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 paucity of passable 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 and partners are utilizing training approaches in which participants learn to teach others. 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. Smallholders have been supported by World Vision through farmer field schools, and GIZ has provided seeds, agricultural production tools and extension services.

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 the Republic of the Sudan 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.

Tweet about it:

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.”

Tweet about it:

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.