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.

[publication|647706|647707] Smallholder farmers generally have limited marketing options, often selling small quantities to traders at the farm gate for unfavourable prices. To help smallholders profit more from agriculture, WFP and partners support them to work together in farmers’ organizations. These organizations receive training to aggregate crops, add value and engage with formal markets for quality produce, gaining crucial experience by selling to WFP. 

Aggregation mechanisms

To meet the quantity requirements of large-scale buyers, smallholder farmers must aggregate their crops and sell collectively. This allows them to negotiate better prices for their crops, as well as access a range of other services. WFP supports farmers’ organizations with training and equipment to strengthen their ability to function as businesses and provide services to their members. In many countries, other innovative aggregation methods are being tested, such as commodity exchanges and warehouse receipts systems.

Farmers’ organizations demonstrate abilities

Generally, large-scale buyers do not purchase food from smallholder farmers’ organizations because they are seen as unreliable and lacking the necessary business skills. However, by marketing their crops to WFP, farmers’ organizations demonstrate that they are reliable and professional suppliers. Having seen this, both institutional and private sector buyers are showing increased interest in procuring crops from these emerging businesses, with farmers’ organizations making sales to millers, processors and supermarket chains.

P4P has shown that despite gains in capacity, farmers’ organizations still require patient buyers who take the challenges they face into account and continue strengthening their capacities. Therefore, WFP supports buyers to make purchases in ways inclusive of smallholder farmers. For example, national governments are now leveraging lessons learned under P4P, using pro-smallholder procurement modalities to source food for national grain reserves, home grown school feeding programmes, hospitals and prisons.

Smallholder-friendly procurement

[photo|647713] In countries such as Guatemala, WFP helps the Government to institutionalize and integrate the P4P approach on a national level, using a trust fund to support pro-smallholder procurement and the capacity development of Government institutions. In many other countries – including Burkina Faso, Rwanda and Tanzania – WFP supports governments to make their procurement practices more inclusive. Smallholder-friendly procurement practices may involve softening some contracting requirements, such as by waiving competition and transportation based on the capacity of the farmers’ organization. WFP holds training in its areas of expertise, such as quality assessment and control, warehousing, logistics and market information systems. Exchange visits organized by WFP have proven to be powerful tools for encouraging innovative approaches.

Management Systems International (MSI) and WFP carried out a desk review entitled Supporting Public Procurement from Smallholder Farmers to provide an overview of government buying from smallholder farmers, and recommendations for WFP’s continued support of these efforts. The paper concludes that continued capacity development is needed for smallholder farmers and government institutions.

Supporting Rwandan scale up

The Government of Rwanda was the first to fully embrace and expand the P4P concept under a project called Common P4P (CP4P). Under CP4P, legislation commits the National Strategic Grain Reserve and other public institutions to purchase up to 40 percent of their staple grain requirements from smallholder farmers’ cooperatives.

WFP supports CP4P by training Government officials on various aspects of engaging with smallholder farmers and providing guidance on direct contracting with farmers’ organizations. A WFP consultant was placed with the Ministry of Agriculture to develop a procurement strategy.

Exchange visits inspire in Burkina Faso

[photo|647711] In 2012, Government officials from Burkina Faso went on an exchange visit to Rwanda to learn about the Government’s efforts to support smallholder farmers. After the visit, La Société Nationale de Gestion du Stocks de Sécurité Alimentaire (SONAGESS), Burkina Faso’s national food reserve agency, began working to source 30 percent of its food needs from smallholder farmers’ organizations.

WFP helped SONAGESS expand its price collection system to gather more relevant data from rural markets closer to farmers’ organizations. The Government is now working to expand their warehouse network, and sought WFP assistance to identify locations to maximize procurement from smallholder farmers.

National Food Reserve Agency of Tanzania

In 2012, an agreement was signed to increase WFP purchases from Tanzania’s National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA), while strengthening the NFRA’s pro-smallholder procurement. WFP trained NFRA and Ministry of Agriculture staff as well as farmers’ organization presidents in quality control, warehousing and logistics to support this process. In 2014, these efforts paid off, with the NFRA procuring US$6.9 million-worth of maize (23,000 mt) from 165 farmers’ organizations.

Private sector purchases

Through their engagement with WFP, farmers’ organizations have demonstrated their ability to meet quality requirements and deliver on contracts. This has built critical trust amongst private sector actors and led to increased purchases of crops from smallholder farmers supported by WFP. In Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, farmers’ organizations sold US$20.6 million-worth of crops to private sector buyers, including Walmart. P4P also held round tables to connect farmers’ organizations and buyers.

[photo|647710] In El Salvador, farmers’ organizations developed logos and barcodes for their produce to make sales to supermarkets and other buyers. They have also added value to their crops by marketing black beans in consumer-size pre-cooked cans. Two farmers’ organizations signed a forward delivery contract with flour producing company Harisa, and agreements have been signed through the Ministry of Agriculture for sales to companies such as GUMARSAL and MASECA.

In many countries, P4P-supported smallholder farmers have been linked to millers and processors who buy their surplus crops for the production of fortified foods such as flour blend and high energy biscuits. In Guatemala, a project under the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) movement is linking smallholder farmers to agro-industry companies that supply processed nutrient-rich food to WFP. A similar project is carried out in Afghanistan, where P4P provides support along the entire value chain – from farmers to local millers and processors. Locally-produced wheat and soya are used in the production of fortified flour, high-energy biscuits and lipid-based nutritional supplements.

Smallholder farmers have also been linked to private sector millers and processors in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Rwanda.

Markets for quality

While buyers are increasingly making purchases from smallholder farmers, it is crucial to identify the availability of other markets that pay premium prices for high quality crops. In collaboration with WFP, MSI surveyed private sector buyers in 17 of the 20 P4P pilot countries. The results are described in a paper entitled Markets for Quality beyond the World Food Programme. The study found that 77 percent of buyers were willing to pay premium prices for smallholders’ quality crops, indicating a potential for increased purchases from smallholder farmers.

However, challenges include a lack of infrastructure and government policy on crop quality, low levels of trust and widely dispersed locations of rural farmers. In some countries, traders already own cleaning equipment and are not interested in purchasing high quality crops. The paper recommends that WFP advocate for better enforcement of quality standards, and continued efforts to raise awareness about crop quality. It also highlights the need for private sector actors to maintain relationships forged under P4P. WFP will continue to work with private sector actors to help smallholder farmers enter markets.

With Purchase for Progress (P4P), the World Food Programme (WFP) purchases crops from smallholder farmers’ organizations and supports them to become effective businesses. With help from WFP, other buyers bought more than US$60 million-worth of food from these farmers’ organizations, giving smallholders access to sustainable markets.

One third of land in Guatemala is arable, with only a small amount devoted to staple food crops like maize and black beans. The majority of farmers – over one million families – engage in subsistence agriculture. Since P4P began in February 2009, the Government has collaborated closely with WFP to support the integration of smallholder farmers into agricultural markets. This work has been according to national strategies for poverty reduction, food security and nutrition. Today, smallholder farmers participating in P4P are becoming small businesses capable of producing high quality crops in greater quantities, and are making sales to both government and private sector buyers.

Government trust fund to integrate pro-smallholder efforts

In February 2014, WFP and the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture (MAGA) signed an agreement with the long-term objective of integrating the P4P approach into the Government’s practices. Under this agreement, which is eligible for renewal on an annual basis, WFP would use a trust fund to support pro-smallholder procurement and the capacity development of government institutions. The trust fund was created with the Government’s initial contribution of US$2.1 million from the national budget. These efforts build upon the “Triangle of Dignity programme” inspired by P4P, which was launched in 2012, and provides financial access and technical support to farming families for the marketing of staple crops.

“P4P is aligned with the legal and political framework [in Guatemala] and it has shown in the field that it is possible to move forward from aid to trade,” says Oscar Hernandez, Adviser of the Minister of Agriculture, Sebastian Marcucci. “Five years ago it was a kind of paradigm that farmers’ organizations could not sell in the market meeting high quality standards. But after five years we have seen that it is possible.”

To date, WFP has purchased some 4,300 metric tons (mt) of maize from 17 P4P-supported farmers’ organizations using the government trust fund. The maize was used in national food assistance programmes and the national food reserve, as well as WFP’s Food for Assets and emergency food assistance programmes.

WFP is also providing support to government institutions in pro-smallholder procurement, quality assurance and logistics. Rural extension agents have particularly benefited from training in post-harvest loss reduction and crop quality and safety analysis using the Blue Box field testing kit, which was developed by the WFP Guatemala office. Training in good agricultural practices was provided by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and MAGA. In order to increase the capacity of national food stores, WFP provides training and logistical support to the regional warehouses managed by the Instituto Nacional de Comercializacion Agricola (INDECA).

Gender and agriculture

In Guatemala, P4P has had a strong focus on strengthening the equitable participation of women in agriculture. A joint UN project, Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women (RWEE), is being carried out with UN Women, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) under the leadership of WFP.

Good practices identified under P4P were used to develop an institutional gender policy for MAGA. The policy will be launched in June 2015. Gender sensitisation activities are carried out with government extension workers to ensure their activities take the specific needs of women farmers into account, ensuring that they benefit fully.

Private sector engagement

Strengthening institutional procurement is only one part of efforts to fully integrate smallholder farmers into agricultural markets in Guatemala. As a part of the government’s participation in the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) initiative, smallholder farmers now selling to the agro-industry companies that produce nutritious fortified foods. These foods are distributed to at-risk populations in Guatemala. Smallholder farmers’ organizations have also been linked to local, regional and international private sector buyers including Walmart and Maseca.

Oscar Hernandez, Technical Advisor, Ministry of Agriculture, gives an overview of how the Government of Guatemala is building on lessons learned from P4P:

In Guatemala, WFP is supporting the Government to institutionalize and integrate the P4P approach on a national level. Lessons learned and best practices from the pilot period are being used to increase the capacity of government institutions to carry out pro-smallholder procurement, enhance gender equity and improve quality control and post-harvest handling.


Impact assessments were carried out in El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania. Preliminary analyses have been carried out for three of the countries, with the Ghana Impact Assessment to be finalized this year. The studies utilize quasi-experimental designs that differ slightly to fit each country context. For each assessment, a sampling of participating and non-participating farmers and organizations were surveyed to identify changes within farmers’ organizations and households that can be attributed to P4P rather than outside factors.

Increased yields, improved marketing capacities

The most striking changes were found at the level of farmers’ organizations, where P4P’s work was most direct. Data shows that P4P-supported organizations gained significantly more capacity to function as businesses than groups that did not participate in the pilot. Farmers’ organizations supported by P4P are now offering more and higher quality services to members, with farmers accessing storage, inputs, training, marketing and post-harvest handling. In Ethiopia in particular, the increased likelihood of sales to buyers beyond WFP points strikingly to an overall increase in the marketing capacity of P4P-supported Cooperative Unions.

Preliminary data shows that membership in a P4P-supported farmers’ organization is associated with statistically significant increases in yields relative to that which farmers would have achieved without P4P. This held particularly true in El Salvador, where P4P-supported farmers benefited from improved extension services as well as crop and region-specific input packages. Yield increases attributable to P4P were also observed in Ethiopia, but to a lesser extent. In Tanzania, where supply side efforts focused on strengthening the marketing infrastructure and skills of farmers’ organizations, the yields of P4P-supported farmers were not significantly greater than those of non-participants. This result reaffirms the importance of accompanying procurement efforts with production support.

More resilient farmers lead the way

Income and expenditure data collected throughout the pilot confirm that P4P-supported households are better off now than at the start of the P4P pilot. However, it has not yet been scientifically proven that P4P is the cause of this improved welfare. However, farmers’ organizations, through which P4P targets smallholder farmers, have unquestionably increased their capacities in comparison to their peers. This suggests that it may require more time than the five-year pilot to see the results trickle down to the household level.

The surveys used in the impact assessments were administered only to farmers cultivating less than 2 hectares. However, sales records suggest that farmers cultivating slightly more land sold more through farmers’ organizations, acquiring more benefits directly attributable to P4P. Other studies have found that a core group of more resilient “lead farmers” with greater land size, access to education, infrastructure and other resources tend to be the first to respond. With time, these “lead farmers” generally pave the way for less resilient farmers. It is expected as more farmers follow the example of those selling through their organizations, the impact on farmers’ welfare will be more widespread and the attribution of this positive impact to P4P will become clearer.

Based upon these findings, additional study will be undergone to continue improving the implementation and study of the P4P approach.

Throughout the P4P pilot, a range of positive changes were observed in the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers. To identify which can be directly attributed to P4P, in-depth impact assessments were carried out in four of the 20 pilot countries. Despite methodological challenges, results point to positive changes achieved through P4P support, while providing insights to improve future efforts.

The seminar, entitled “Agriculture in Africa’s Transformation: The Role of Smallholder Farmers”, ran from 26 - 27 March and was held in Maputo, Mozambique.

“This senior policy seminar on agriculture in Africa’s transformation provided a timely forum for dialogue between senior policy makers and thought leaders, and among policy makers themselves. This debate was conducted in the best of AERC traditions, guided by rigour and evidence. This is where research meets policy. The seminar was inspired by a productive partnership between AERC and WFP on the P4P pilot programme,” said Professor Lemma W. Senbet, Executive Director of AERC.

The declaration, which was endorsed by all participants, acknowledges the centrality of smallholder farmers in Africa’s economic and social growth and transformation. It specifically emphasizes governments’ roles in promoting inclusive and sustainable growth by targeting smallholder farmers in public food procurement programmes.


Maputo, March 27, 2015

We African Senior Policy Makers assembled at the AERC Senior Policy Seminar,

Affirming that pro-smallholder agricultural development is pro-growth,

Recognizing the prominent position accorded to smallholder farmers in the African Union’s Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP),

Further recognizing the renewed commitment to smallholder agriculture in the Malabo Declaration by African Heads of State on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods,

Commending governments across Africa for devoting increasing shares of national budgets to agriculture, while recognizing that important gaps remain,

Noting that appropriate incentives are critical for smallholders to adopt the productivity - and income-enhancing technologies and practices that drive agricultural development and broader economic and social transformation,

Further noting that several structural conditions generate obstacles to such increased adoption, most notably by limiting smallholder engagement in key input and output markets, including critical information gaps,

Mindful that the needs of women farmers and youth require special attention,

Also mindful of the need to address expanded access to land, credit, and financial services,

Appreciating the urgent need for policy reforms and institutional innovation to overcome these obstacles, with an emphasis on stronger implementation,

Acknowledging the importance of reliable market outlets for surpluses generated when smallholders adopt improved technologies and practices,

1. Affirm that smallholders lie not only at the center of the financial inclusion agenda, but also at the broader financial development agenda, and that Central Banks can play a critical role in furthering smallholder inclusion in financial markets;

2. Commend the partnership between African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to strengthen the evidence base for policy and programme design and implementation for demand-led pro-smallholder market development, urging them to continue to work with other partners to develop a practical but cutting-edge Research and Development agenda to address policy and programming challenges raised by demand-driven pro-smallholder market development;

3. Take note of the promise of the demand-led Purchase for Progress (P4P) approach as an institutional innovation that can strengthen African smallholders' capacities to seize market opportunities and thereby adopt yield-enhancing technologies, raise their incomes, and enhance their well-being; and

4. Commit to undertake consultations within our own Governments to explore scope for employing pro-smallholder demand-led approaches within public food procurement programs, thereby promoting inclusive and sustainable growth and broader transformation.

This March, a seminar co-hosted by WFP and the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) brought together senior African policy makers to discuss the importance of strengthening smallholder agriculture. Following two days of discussions, a declaration was adopted, reaffirming the commitment of policy makers to support pro-smallholder demand-led market development.

A summary report is available to provide the highlights from the consultation while the full P4P Annual Consultation report includes more details.

On this page you can access all material related to the P4P Annual Consultation. Presentations, remarks and other reference documents is also available for downloading. 




The sixth P4P Annual Consultation was held in Rome from 24 to 26 February 2015. The meeting brought together 170 stakeholders from around the world to discuss lessons and opportunities that could be built upon in the post-pilot phase, identify main challenges and propose new ways to improve the effectiveness of future P4P-like efforts. 

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: