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P4P Stories from the field

A closer look at the farmers whose lives are being changed by P4P.

[photo|649618] The maize markets where Ghanaian smallholder farmers sell their produce are generally informal. Farmers have little say in the prices they receive, and usually market maize using the “bushweight” system. This means selling heaped “size 5” bags, which weigh around 150 to 170 kg, for the price of a 100 kg bag. This can leave the farmer unpaid for 30 to 40 percent of the marketed crop.

For smallholder farmers like Fati Mahama, bushweight was standard practice until she began selling to WFP. When P4P introduced weighing scales, this showed farmers the income they were losing under the bushweight system. Plus, under P4P, farmers were trained to make sales of quality crops, enabling them to earn better prices for value addition. This means that they learn to remove low quality grains or inorganic material – such as stones – making sure that the crops they sell best suit the buyers’ needs as well.

“The weighing scales have helped us make more money,” Fati says. “When I weighed my six heaped bags, I ended up with nine maxi bags (100 kg per bag) which I re-bagged into 18 mini bags (50 kg) and sold to WFP for more money.”

Collective action encourages change

Even after learning what prices were fair, farmers don’t have much bargaining power to change the way business is done as individuals. But by working together in farmers’ organizations, they can take action collectively, increasing their ability to negotiate and affect broader change. Under P4P, farmers’ organizations are strengthened as important spaces for farmers to access services and sell surplus production collectively to formal markets.

In the Ejura-Sekyedumasi municipality of Ghana’s Ashanti region, farmers’ organizations formed a powerful platform for producers to advocate for their own rights. Together, they petitioned local authorities for measures to support standardized pricing in the maize market.

Local officials embrace innovative solutions

[photo|649619]But changing the way markets work is not easy. In the past, Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture tried to introduce weighing scales, but faced challenges due to the high costs of keeping them calibrated and in working condition. Uptake was also challenging due to limited consultation with and sensitization of market actors.

Aware of these challenges, the local authorities in the Ejura-Sekyedumasi municipality worked together with stakeholders – including farmers, traders and transporters – to find a creative solution to help farmers receive fair prices for their crops. Following these efforts, officials decided on the mandatory use of the smaller “Size 4” bags, which weigh 110 kg instead of 150 to 170 kg.

Radio as a platform for farmers’ voices

To make this work, extensive sensitization was needed to educate value chain actors and ensure their buy-in. Community radio implemented together with Farm Radio International (FRI) provided a platform for smallholder farmers to argue their case.

Introduction of the Size 4 bags did face some resistance. Traders felt that they were losing income, and transporters were dissatisfied with the extra labour required as they had to re-bag their cargo once in Ejura-Sekyedumasi. However, enforcement and awareness-raising efforts by local officials has led to the Size 4 bags being embraced by market actors.

Benefits across the value chain

Benefits of the new system have spread across the maize value chain. Low income farmers are gaining increased revenue, and are better able to estimate what they will earn each season. The new system has also strengthened transparency in interactions between producers and buyers. Overall, despite a rocky transition, these efforts have enabled farmers to earn fair prices and made farming a lucrative activity rather than a scramble for survival.

 “Farming is now a business” says Lawrence Krampah, District Director of Agriculture.

In the future, P4P will continue supporting locally-led efforts to standardize the staples trade, enhancing benefits for smallholder farmers across the country.  WFP is now planning a stakeholder’s workshop on the adoption and institutionalization of weights and measures, and will continue to support the Government of Ghana and low-income farmers to scale up this success to other parts of the country.

Watch the video here

In Ghana, farmers sell their crops using an informal system called “bushweight”, under which they receive payment for only a portion of their marketed produce. Under Purchase for Progress (P4P), the World Food Programme supports these farmers to receive standard prices by using weighing scales, and to earn improved margins through the sale of quality crops. These efforts have raised broad awareness, and led to local solutions to ensure the fair reimbursement of smallholder farmers.

As the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, the World Food Programme (WFP) reaches an average of 80 million people each year with life-saving food assistance. We also work to eradicate the root causes of hunger; one way we do this is by sourcing our food in ways that build stronger and more inclusive food systems.

In 2008, we launched Purchase for Progress (P4P) to explore how to source food more directly from the small-scale farmers. Purchasing earlier in the supply chain means a great deal of logistical challenges. To address these we have worked with a wide variety of partners, especially host governments and other United Nations agencies – such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – to help farmers produce more, reduce their post-harvest losses and work together as businesses capable of dealing with everything from formal contracts to transportation. To date we have purchased over US$190 million worth of food from smallholder farmers, and have a goal to purchase 10 per cent of all our food within the next three years. Click here to read more.

Blog by Edouard Nizeyimana, P4P Senior Programme Adviser. This article was originally published on Farming First

What does one bag of beans mean in the global effort to end hunger? It turns out, a lot. 2016 is the International Year of Pulses. It is also the first full year in which we are officially working toward the Sustainable Development Goals, which set an ambitious but attainable target to end hunger by 2030. An important part of this is improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers – especially women. We have found a way of doing this that also strengthens resilience and improves nutrition: buying more beans and peas.

Since 2004, WFP and the Government of Burkina Faso have been working together to support nutrition and education—especially for girls—in the Sahel region. Today, more than 2,200 students are benefitting from nutritious, locally-produced yogurt in these school meals. Under this project, milk produced by small-scale livestock breeders is processed into yogurt by local women’s associations. WFP then purchases the yogurt for distribution in schools. The P4P experience purchasing from small-scale staple crop producers and developing capacities through strong partnerships has been key. In 2015, P4P applied lessons learned from seven years of experience to support three local dairy processing units run by women. Thanks to these efforts, two additional dairy processing units will be added in 2016, the number of schools reached should double.

Increasing attendance, improving livelihoods

Since distributions began, teachers have observed that students are attending class more regularly, an important accomplishment in a region where school enrolment rates are low and families struggle to feed themselves. The project is also supporting the development of the dairy sector. In the Sahel region, 40 percent of the population relies on livestock for their livelihoods. Thanks to the increased demand for milk used to produce yogurt, local cattle breeders have a stable market for their production. Investments in quality control also have the potential to improve the overall quality of yogurt sold on local markets. In addition, the initiative represents an important opportunity for women –  the main actors involved in small-scale food processing in Burkina Faso –  to scale up their production efforts and increase their income, adding value to milk and marketing yogurt to WFP.

Investing in quality control and increased production

Buy-in from local suppliers and tailored capacity development has been key to P4P’s achievements during the pilot and beyond. Because local dairy processors often have limited capacities and may struggle to meet WFP’s quality requirements, support for production and quality assurance is critical. Joint capacity development and investment plans were developed with each processor, who were then provided with quality control equipment and training. WFP continues to work in partnership with the national laboratory to conduct regular quality analyses.  

While the processors are experienced in yogurt production, many were new to the world of balance sheets, loans and market research, and have struggled to access credit to invest in improving production. To address these challenges, each processor received support to develop sales and investment plans, and to access credit with support from WFP and partners, including the regional bureau of the Ministry of Animal Resources and Ecobank. With credit and an assured market for their production, producers have invested in additional equipment to increase production and improve quality. Production capacity has tripled in just six months, thanks to co-investments by WFP and the processors, and all three processors are consistently meeting quality standards. During the first five months of distribution, processor Kossam N’ai Bodedji marketed 21 mt of yogurt to WFP, translating to US$52,500 in sales. This increased production capacity also provides opportunities for local cattle breeders – increasing demand for the milk they produce.

Moving forward

WFP plans to scale up further in 2016, expanding support to additional processors and adding more schools to reach a total of 10,000 students. As during the P4P pilot, measuring results, identifying lessons learned and sharing best practices will be key to measuring results and informing project design. Lessons learned will also facilitate a progressive handover of the programme to local communities.


By Eliza Warren-Shriner, P4P Consultant, Burkina Faso

Through its school feeding programme in Burkina Faso, WFP provides daily meals for 132,000 students. In May 2015, a new item was added to the menu: yogurt, a nutritious, locally-produced product which is well-liked among students. The yogurt is part of a new project in Burkina Faso, which builds upon WFP’s expertise in school feeding and supporting market access for small-scale staple crop farmers under Purchase for Progress (P4P).

The combined efforts of the three Rome-based agencies allow smallholder farmers to access comprehensive support that a single agency could not provide alone. Each agency brings its own expertise to the table, combining FAO’s technical expertise in agriculture and natural resource management, IFAD’s policy dialogue and strong linkages with the Government and WFP’s logistics expertise and demand. Although the work of these agencies is complementary, differing business models, implementation areas and project cycles can sometimes make collaboration challenging.

In order to overcome these challenges in Zambia, a joint mapping exercise was carried out to identify the location, theme and time frame of each agency’s activities in the country. This exercise helped identify overlaps and potential synergies. In Zambia, directors and programme staff from each agency meet on a quarterly basis to provide updates on their respective operations and discuss.

The Rome-based agencies

FAO, IFAD and WFP – known as the Rome-based agencies – share a common vision of promoting world food security by ending hunger and eliminating its root causes. In many countries, P4P provided a neat intersection for the mandates of the three agencies.

  • FAO is the lead specialized agency of the United Nations in the international fight against hunger and malnutrition.
  • IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries where the majority of the world’s poorest people live.
  • WFP is the United Nations frontline agency mandated to combat global hunger, which afflicts about one out of every nine people on earth.

Agricultural skills, infrastructure and an assured market

[photo|648381] Chimpili Cooperative joined WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) project in 2012. The strong collaboration between the three Rome-based agencies means the farmers are increasingly able to access well-coordinated services along the entire value chain. On the supply side, FAO has identified the farmers as eligible participants for the Conservation Agriculture Scale-Up Programme (CASU), which teaches intercropping and diversification to strengthen agricultural skills and natural resource management. The farmers of Chimpili have an incentive to invest in these new techniques because they know they will be able to market their crops to WFP. The food supplied is used in the Home Grown School Feeding programme, supplying schoolchildren with meals based on locally-produced foods. 

The rural cooperative now has an agribusiness centre which contains a warehouse, offices and a hammer mill. The agribusiness centre strengthens the cooperative’s business opportunities by enabling them to aggregate greater quantities for sale while preserving crop quality and adding value to their crops. Despite these gains, the poor quality of the road leading to and from the village limited the farmers’ ability to access larger-scale markets. In 2016 the road will be rehabilitated as part of IFAD’s work to develop infrastructure in Zambia, unlocking the potential of smallholder farmers and enabling them to access diversified markets.

Mindset shift leads to seeing farming as a business

[photo|648382] The intersection of these initiatives has generated sustainable change for the farmers of Chimpili. In 2012, the cooperative had 40 members and marketed US$15,000 worth of crops to WFP. By 2015, membership had risen to 300 farmers, with sales to WFP valued at US$148,000. As the cooperative grew, members began more and more to see their work in agriculture as a business endeavour. Chimpili is now inviting seed companies to use the warehouse to market higher quality seed to the cooperatives’ farmers. 


“That’s the wonderful thing about markets: once you’ve created an environment where money can be made, private sector players will come,” says Frank Hofmann, Head of German Cooperation to Zambia, who provided funding for the Chimpili Agribusiness centre and other P4P activities in the country.

To ensure transparent leadership, Chimpili now has a Management Committee of 11 members, who are elected every three years. Newly elected member Felix Chanda says that since joining P4P, Chimpili’s earnings from marketing crops have increased almost ten-fold. These gains can be seen clearly in the village: farmers have replaced grass roofing with metal sheeting, and today there are three cars and more than 10 motorbikes where previously there were none.

One farmer, Harriet Chabala, has increased her production of beans by 50 percent over the last two years. Based on her entrepreneurial skills and consistent supply to WFP for the last three marketing seasons, she received an equipment loan from the cooperative for a tricycle. The tricycle can navigate poor quality roads, enabling Harriet to provide transport services to move crops, inputs and people to and from towns and markets.  She says, “I have agreed to repay this loan in three years, but I plan to do it in one.” 

Challenges remain

[photo|648387]To continue developing, Felix says Chimpili needs more public services, including better links to mobile phone networks and mobile money, electricity and irrigation technology.

Representatives from each of the Rome-based agencies are determined to increase the scope and impact of collaboration. Joint planning to improve coordination and increasingly harmonize each agency’s approach can be more time consuming and complex than implementing programmes individually. However, once complementarities are found and strengthened they can catalyse even greater change.

According to Simon Cammelbeeck, WFP Country Director for Zambia: “Last-mile agricultural service delivery and input-output marketing in Zambia’s remote rural areas is perhaps the biggest constraint to improving smallholders’ income, food and nutrition security. Solutions to this challenge must begin with remote smallholder farmers themselves, and then must involve active intervention with stakeholders to ensure that facilities are well utilized and add value to agriculture value chains. The Rome-based agencies are well-placed to contribute to finding these solutions by leveraging their convening power, impartiality and technical expertise.”

Ireen Musonda, Secretary, Chimpili Farmers' Cooperative, tells about her experience working with P4P:

Read more:

Five Facts: Connecting farmers to markets in Zambia

P4P Zambia Fact Sheet

P4P promoting increased access to micronutrient-rich crops

WFP, FAO and IFAD collaborate to strengthen agriculture in rural villages

Draft cattle lighten women’s workloads and increase crop production

Tractors unleash farmers' potential

In Zambia, the smallholder farmers of Chimpili Cooperative are benefiting from joint support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP). With comprehensive supply-side support, improved infrastructure and market access, cooperative members are now growing sustainable businesses.

Following many years of internal conflict, the Republic of South Sudan gained independence from the Republic of the Sudan in July 2011. Renewed conflict began in December 2013. As of July 2015, 4.6 million people, 40 percent of the population, were estimated to be facing the risk of acute hunger. The World Food Programme (WFP) provides lifesaving emergency food assistance for the most vulnerable populations, despite facing funding shortfalls and a great deal of logistical challenges.

Today, conflict continues to disrupt markets and forces people to flee their homes and farms. This leaves farmers in many parts of the country unable to tend to their crops. While farmers in more secure areas may continue producing, they are often unable to access markets, many of which have been closed due to the conflict.

Linking humanitarian assistance with sustainable development

[photo|648182]Alongside emergency assistance, WFP works to build livelihoods. WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative supports smallholder farmers and agricultural markets to continue functioning during the crisis. With the renewal of conflict in late 2013, P4P activities were put on hold. In April 2014, P4P recommenced implementation in relatively stable and accessible areas in Western, Central and Eastern Equatoria States. Working with a wide variety of partners, P4P helps build smallholders' capacity and assists them to sell their surplus crops to WFP and other buyers. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) has provided seeds, agricultural production tools and extension services. P4P also established a partnership with the South Sudan National Bureau of Standards, a government authority mandated to oversee quality testing and administration. WFP supports the bureau to better facilitate in-country quality testing of crops.

Since operations resumed in 2014, smallholder farmers in South Sudan have marketed 376 mt of crops to WFP, despite challenges such as insecurity, lack of electricity and poor infrastructure, especially a lack of passable roads. WFP plans to purchase another 500 mt in the upcoming season. Food purchased from these farmers is used for emergency operations in the country. However, the country’s general instability makes long-term planning challenging.

“Before P4P, farmers had no connection to the market – we didn’t have a store, there was no warehouse, people were just selling a few kilograms of maize – but now with P4P, there is a market, we can sell in bigger quantities and make money to send our kids to school”, says James Apora Ola, President of Alaro Kodi farmers’ organization in Palawar, Eastern Equatoria State.

Farmers in Palwar benefit from working together

[photo|648180]The farmers of Alaro Kodi are benefitting from a new warehouse and road leading to their community, constructed under WFP’s feeder roads programme. They have also seen the benefits of working together.

“P4P has helped us understand the importance of working as a group. As a group we help one another. We work on each other’s farms, cultivating, planting, weeding and harvesting, and we sell together,” says Massimino Open, Treasurer of Alado Kori.

Members of Alaro Kodi sold 70 mt of maize in their first contract with WFP. Motivated by the success of the previous sale, they aim to market 170 mt of commodities to WFP this season.

Although purchases have been carried out successfully, long waits for payment have proved challenging for the farmers, who are accustomed to receiving cash upon delivery. To address this challenge, P4P is working with the Cooperative Bank of South Sudan and the Food, Agribusiness and Rural Markets (FARM) project to launch the Crop Advance credit scheme in Yambio. By increasing farmers’ organizations’ ability to access credit, this project will help them fund the aggregation process and wait for payment.

Slow but steady progress for Singby farmers’ organization

[photo|648183]In Nzara County, Western Equatoria, the smallholder farmers who make up Singby farmers’ organization are also building their businesses. With profits from sales to WFP and other international organizations, the farmers were able to afford to undergo the labour-intensive process of clearing land overgrown by prolonged conflict, expanding their group farm from about 6 to 32 hectares (15 to 75 fedans). 

Lino Baboo, chairman of Singby farmers’ organization, is optimistic but pragmatic about the organization’s future: “We will gradually increase our production and our sales. How can we run here? Road conditions are poor and it is difficult to access inputs. It is more realistic to have slower but steady progress.”


Learn more:

Fact Sheet: P4P in South Sudan

Article: P4P Encourages Farmers to View Agriculture as Business

Small Farmers In South Sudan Take Bold Step Into Markets

Video: Produced in South Sudan (video)

Article: Meet the South Sudanese Farmers Who Want To Feed Their War-Torn Nation

Insecurity and lack of infrastructure due to ongoing conflict in South Sudan pose major challenges for the country’s smallholder farmers. Alongside the World Food Programme’s emergency assistance to vulnerable populations, the Purchase for Progress initiative is supporting farmers to recover and grow their businesses and to stimulate agricultural markets.

Despite steady improvements in agricultural production in recent years, Liberia remains a food-deficit country and depends heavily on international imports. Farmers’ organizations generally have limited storage, processing and marketing capacity. This lack of infrastructure makes it difficult for farmers to access major regional markets. In addition, cooperatives do not have access to the financial services needed to effectively manage the agricultural value chain. The majority of smallholder farmers in Liberia are women. [photo|647618]

1. Farmers have built both businesses and relationships

 In post-conflict countries, an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion can make collaboration among smallholder farmers challenging. In Liberia, WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme has assisted smallholders to overcome this challenge. By helping farmers to re-build relationships and grow their businesses, P4P has been driving a shift of mind-set among farmers and their communities.

2. Women have used farmers’ organizations to look out for one another

The women of the Gbonkuma Women’s Association have not only used their organization to strengthen their production and commercialization of rice, but also as a safe space in a volatile post-war context, where women and girls face increased risks of gender-based violence.  The organization’s achievements were recognized with two visits from the President of Liberia. [photo|647619]

3. Slow progress improves crop quality

Commodities must be inspected by independent superintendents to ensure that quality standards are met. This is not always financially feasible for organizations aggregating low quantities of food; and farmers often compromise cereal quality to fill bags. Continued capacity development activities are needed to emphasize the importance of quality standards for procurement.

4. Smallholder farmers supplied food distributed by WFP to people affected by Ebola

The Ebola outbreak, which began in mid-2014, caused a variety of challenges for smallholder farmers. These challenges threatened to disrupt WFP’s efforts to link farmers to markets. However, farmers rose to the challenge, selling 700 mt of rice to WFP. This rice was used to feed patients quarantined in medical centres. [photo|647620]

5. Though infrastructure is being strengthened, poor roads are a major challenge

In partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), WFP has constructed and rehabilitated 14 warehouses, and provided 19 rice mills and accessories to participating farmers’ organizations. However, Liberia’s precarious road network and rainfall patterns make it difficult for trucks to adhere to farmers’ schedules when uplifting crops from their warehouses.

After years of civil war, and the outbreak of the Ebola virus in mid-2014, smallholder farmers in Liberia face a wide variety of challenges. The World Food Programme (WFP) and partners work to support smallholder farmers across the value chain – from production to post-harvest handling and marketing.

Defining nutrition-sensitive agriculture

According to the 2013 Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition, nutrition-sensitive agriculture consists of interventions or programmes in the agriculture sector that address the underlying determinants of fetal and child nutrition and development—food security; adequate caregiving resources at the maternal, household and community levels; and access to health and a safe and hygienic environment—and incorporate specific nutrition goals and actions. Read more

In developing countries, 45 percent of deaths in children under the age of five are linked to undernutrition. Undernutrition affects billions of people worldwide, with irreversible consequences for mental and physical health and development, which in turn impact individuals’ ability to reach their full potential and lift themselves out of poverty.  With the majority of rural poor engaged in agriculture, farming has a recognized role to play in preventing malnutrition, as a provider of food, livelihoods and income. However, increasing farmers’ incomes and agricultural production isn’t enough – farmers and their families must have access to nutritious foods that meet their needs, as well as the knowledge to make informed choices about diverse diets and other nutrition-enhancing behaviours.

The P4P approach provides a range of opportunities to fully incorporate nutrition-sensitive efforts. Though the design of the P4P pilot did not explicitly include a nutrition component on a global level, some linkages occurred naturally in the field. These linkages have provided a learning opportunity on how future nutrition-sensitive approaches can be strengthened. Efforts have naturally developed across the value chain, from input supply, production and postharvest handling to processing, distribution and food utilization.

Seeds, storage and production skills, more nutritious crops

More nutritious staple crops have been introduced to smallholder farmers through the input supply channel, and farmers have been encouraged to increase production and consumption of crops high in nutritional value. Additionally, an emphasis on conservation agriculture in countries such as Nicaragua and Zambia aims to ensure the health of soils, which can increase the presence of nutrients in crops.

[photo|647391] In West Africa, WFP began purchasing a local variety of cowpea called niébé which is high in protein and nutrients. Niébé is traditionally grown by women farmers in small plots for household consumption. Encouraging women to increase production of niébéwhile teaching them about its health benefits can lead to its increased availability and consumption in households and communities. P4P-supported farmers have received support to produce other nutritious foods as well, including soya in Afghanistan, and groundnuts in Malawi and Zambia  or sale in local markets.

Some smallholder farmers are now growing biofortified varieties of local crops – such as maize, beans and sweet potatoes. Biofortified crops are traditionally bred to contain higher quantities of micronutrients. In Nicaragua, efforts are underway to introduce two varieties of biofortified beans produced by the Instituto Nicaraguense de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA; Nicaraguan Institute for Agricultural Technology). The beans, which contain 60 percent more iron and zinc than traditional varieties, will be purchased by WFP and used in school meals. P4P is also collaborating with HarvestPlus to increase the availability of biofortified crops in Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia. Smallholder farmers produce these crops and sell the surplus back to HarvestPlus as seed, or small quantities to WFP for food assistance – primarily school feeding and mother and child health and nutrition initiatives.

 An emphasis on crop quality and safety has raised awareness about the dangers of consuming unsafe food and improved the quality of smallholders’ produce, including that which is retained for household consumption. There has been a particular focus on reducing aflatoxin, a chemical compound unsafe for human consumption, which is also thought to contribute to stunting in children.

Linking farmers with millers and processors

[photo|647393]In many countries, P4P-supported smallholder farmers have been linked to millers and other 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 for distribution to at-risk populations. 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.

Distributing locally-sourced foods through school meals

[photo|647390]By linking local agricultural production to school meals, Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) capitalizes on the traditional benefits of School Feeding programmes and multiplies advantages for rural communities. HGSF contributes to the diversity and freshness of the food basket served in schools, which can improve students’ nutritional intake. Micronutrient powders can also be added to the school meals to combat micronutrient deficiencies as needed. Strengthening the nutritional value of school meals is one of the ways in which nutrition-sensitive agriculture can play a critical role in contributing to larger social protection initiatives.

In Honduras, school meals help improve schoolchildren’s food security and nutritional intake by providing them with diversified menus containing a variety of micronutrients (essential vitamins and minerals) based on local habits. School meals in Honduras now incorporate locally-produced vegetables, fruits, eggs and dairy products, most of which are produced by smallholder farmers, as well as fortified maize flour produced on the national level. A similar project is carried out in Malawi, under PAA Africa.

Nutrition education and awareness-raising

Nutrition-sensitive interventions can be used as a platform for delivering nutrition education and increasing the reach of nutrition communication efforts. For example, in Afghanistan, an advocacy campaign is being carried out with the Government’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) to increase demand for fortified foods produced locally from smallholders’ produce.

[photo|647395]School meals also present the opportunity to teach schoolchildren about the importance of good nutrition, lessons which they can bring back to their families and household. An emphasis on nutritious fresh foods can promote diet diversification at home, a lesson which many schools, such as the Hanja Chafa Primary School in Ethiopia, reinforce through nutrition education. Similarly, when Vitamin A Maize was being introduced to school meals in Zambia, cooking demonstrations were held in schools and communities to illustrate its benefits and relative similarity to that of the traditional white maize – despite its different colour. After these demonstrations, the schools requested biofortified seeds for planting in their school gardens.

Because women farmers are often responsible for childcare and food preparation, P4P’s gender component has proven particularly effective for delivering nutrition education. For example, under the SUN movement in Guatemala, food insecure people, especially women, are assisted to create home gardens and carry out soil conservation activities. Mother-to-mother support groups discuss feeding and care practices, equipping mothers with the tools to provide their children with adequate nutrition. Similarly, in Mali sessions were held detailing the benefits of eating niébé at home.

Addressing risks and overcoming challenges

Agricultural development can play an important role in improving nutrition. However, at the most basic level, nutrition-sensitive interventions should be carefully designed to ensure a “do no harm” approach. For example, empowering women farmers to engage more fully in agricultural activities could mean less time for childcare and food preparation. In addition, increased emphasis on staple crop production could alter land use away from more nutrient-rich foods. Recognizing these potential risks, WFP will continue ensuring that nutrition is taken into account in its pro-smallholder market development efforts. Continued efforts will be made to provide nutrition education. Plus, solutions to ensure that women’s participation in agriculture does not negatively impact household nutrition will continue to be emphasized. WFP will continue supporting women to access the technology and skills to reduce the demands of their labour and help them better balance their time between responsibilities.

Moving forward, increased efforts to explicitly incorporate nutrition objectives and to track nutrition-sensitive outcomes are needed in WFP’s pro-smallholder programming. As P4P is mainstreamed into WFP’s regular work, there is an increased opportunity to build more conscious links with nutrition into its design. Using the nutrition value chain, potential entry points for adding or strengthening nutritional value to P4P activities can be systematically identified, and recommendations made accordingly. Moving forward, WFP will continue to develop guidance for best incorporating nutrition-sensitive efforts into its portfolio of work.

Read more about P4P and nutrition:

Efforts to enhance smallholder farmers’ involvement in agricultural markets under the World Food Programme (WFP) Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme have led to a variety of nutrition-sensitive activities. In many rural communities where P4P and partners work, these context- and country-specific efforts have begun to increase farming families’ access to nutritious food and their knowledge of good nutrition practices.

Innovative Aggregation Methods 

[photo|647097]In late 2014, Malawi hosted a delegation from Burkina Faso, including representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, farmers’ organizations and WFP staff. The delegation was particularly interested in the commodity exchange (CEX) and Warehouse Receipts System (WRS), mechanisms that enable smallholder farmers in Malawi to access storage facilities, credit and markets.

The Malawi experience is particularly relevant to Burkina Faso, where there are similar agricultural and economic conditions for smallholder farmers. Exchange visit participants visited stakeholders and structures critical in implementing the CEX and WRS – including government officials, farmers’ organizations, and private companies – to see how WRS and other tools can be adopted in Burkina Faso. Marie Thérèse Toé, who represented one of the farmers’ organisations from Burkina Faso, said she learned a great deal from the rigorous post-harvest handling and storage procedures Malawian farmers’ organisations use to manage their stocks to reduce losses and improve quality.

Strong Commitment to Smallholder Farmers

While acknowledging the differences between the two countries – the Malawian market is more liberalized – participants noted a variety of lessons which can be applied in the context of Burkina Faso. After observing Malawi’s effective warehouse receipts system, government officials and WFP staff emphasized the importance of strengthening public-private partnership and encouraging private sector investment in order to best support smallholder farmers.

The Government of Burkina Faso is developing a national strategy to create a warehouse receipts system. Under this strategy, part of the national budget has been allocated to fund the construction of storage infrastructure, with logistical support from WFP. A committee led by the Ministry of Agriculture is monitoring the implementation of specific recommendations from the visit.

“It has been a fruitful trip that allowed us to learn directly from farmers and the institutions they work with. We will use this knowledge to develop a strategy for implementing a warehouse receipts system,” says Denis Ouédraogo, Director of Rural Economy in Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Agriculture.

Government Ownership Lends a Strong Example

The Government of Rwanda was the first government to take full ownership of P4P, scaling up the approach across the country in an initiative called “Common P4P” (CP4P). Delegations from Burkina Faso, Ghana and Kenya have all visited Rwanda to learn first-hand from the government’s coordination of pro-smallholder procurement and how national governments can use P4P as a tool for agricultural development.

In Burkina Faso, lessons learned during the exchange visit provided the basis for a new agricultural inputs distribution system and encouraged SONAGESS, the national food reserve agency, to dedicate 30 percent of purchases to smallholder farmers. The inputs distribution system and institutional purchases under SONAGESS are important components of the Government’s efforts to use the P4P approach to support smallholder farmers.

Similar exchange visits and workshops have been carried out under PAA Africa, a joint project of WFP, FAO, local governments and the governments of Brazil and the United Kingdom. PAA Africa is piloted in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger and Senegal. The project seeks to strengthen South-South Cooperation by engaging host governments to build off from the learnings from Brazil’s widely acclaimed local procurement programme and from similar initiatives from other African countries.

In May 2015, a workshop held in Malawi included Mozambican government officials and civil society representatives, who visited several schools, learning about budget allocation to local governments, involvement of communities and civil society and local-level diet diversification programmes. Mozambique is building from these lessons by testing decentralized procurement in its school feeding programme. Through the WFP Centre of Excellence, a number of African governments, including Tanzania, have visited Brazil to learn more from the PAA approach.

Farmers Learning from Farmers

[photo|647098] Exchange visits have also been organized between farmers and their organizations through P4P. In Malawi, P4P-supported farmers visited the Mwandama Farmers’ Organization in November 2013. Farmers discussed business strategy, learning about how Mwandama grew into a self-sufficient business by asking detailed questions about legal resources, business strategy, member expectations and leadership skills.

One of the participants in the study tour was Clement Mpoto, from the Kaso farmer’s organization in the Dowa district. Through his participation, Clement saw the concrete benefits of investing in collaboration with his farmers’ organization. "After seeing the Mwandama model, I think it would be good to designate a certain amount of production that a member has to contribute to the cooperative’s stock in exchange for loans or inputs. This would make sure that the business moves forward as we could produce and sell more," he said.

Exchange visits have also been held in countries such as Kenya, Mali and Rwanda. In Kenya more than 30 farmers’ organizations participated in exchange visits from 2009-2013, sharing ideas and visiting aggregation sites.

Through exchange visits between or within countries, participants are exposed to new ideas and have the opportunity to see concrete solutions to challenges they face. Countries such as Rwanda and Malawi have become prototypes for others, demonstrating effective government ownership and innovative aggregation systems, respectively. High capacity farmers’ organisations have also hosted visits, giving smallholder farmers the opportunity to learn directly from their peers.

Scaling Up P4P

As P4P is incorporated into WFP’s regular work, other countries beyond the original 20 P4P pilot countries will benefit from the P4P experience. Exchange visits will have a major role to play in this process.

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In many countries where Purchase for Progress (P4P) is implemented, exchange visits are held to promote first-hand learning about effective approaches for supporting smallholder farmers. The exchange of resources, technology, and knowledge between government officials, farmers and WFP staff develops crucial capacity and relationships between actors, fostering South-South Cooperation.

1. UN Agencies, NGOs and private sector work together to support smallholders

[photo|646941]In Zambia, P4P brings together numerous partners to help farmers access a broad range of services, such as training, equipment and inputs. Partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) are particularly important, with FAO providing support to scale up conservation agriculture, and an agreement with IFAD for road rehabilitation. A local company called NWK services manages a revolving fund enabling farmers to access tractors on loan.

Gender sensitization efforts are carried out through the Kawambwa District Farmers’ Organizations and the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA).  Partnership with the Adventist Development and Relieve Agency (ADRA) strengthens linkages between smallholder farmers and the private sector, as well as the provision of warehouses and training in post-harvest handling and soya production.


2. Heifer International helps women farmers access draft power

In Zambia, P4P partners with Heifer International to provide women farmers with cattle for draft power. Access to animal traction, coupled with the opportunity to market their crops to WFP, can reduce women’s heavy workload, and increase their production and sales of quality crops. Cattle also provide a sustainable source of organic fertilizer and can improve household nutrition through the consumption of milk. Under Heifer’s “pass on the gift” principle, participants give their cattle’s first female offspring to another family in their community, fostering ownership and ensuring the project’s sustainability.

3. Smallholders are producing micronutrient-rich crops

P4P partner HarvestPlus works to reduce micronutrient deficiencies worldwide by developing and disseminating high yielding staple crops bred conventionally to be rich in vitamins and minerals. Smallholder farmers’ organizations in Zambia are growing Vitamin A Maize both for household consumption and sale. HarvestPlus redistributes a part of these crops as seed. A government-led awareness-raising campaign has been fundamental to introducing the orange maize – which has a different physical appearance than the white maize traditionally produced and eaten in Zambia – into the diets of households and school meals.


4. Equipment and infrastructure are making farming more lucrative

Two agribusiness centres have been built in Kasamanda and Kawambwa. The centres are hubs for communities to access agricultural information, storage space, processing equipment and agricultural inputs, such as seeds and fertilizers. Though progress has been made, many smallholders still lack access to adequate storage facilities, and poor road quality makes it difficult for the private sector to access rural areas where smallholder farmers are located.

5. Nutritious foods are bought from local farmers for school meals

By linking local agricultural production to school meals, Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programmes can multiply benefits for rural communities, increasing attendance, improving nutrition and providing smallholders with markets. In Zambia, biofortified maize, protein-rich pulses and dairy products purchased from P4P-supported smallholder farmers are used for nutritious school meals. The market for pulses has been particularly beneficial for women farmers, with 30–50 percent of pulses required for HGSF in Zambia being procured from P4P-supported women farmers’ organizations.

Ireen Musonda, Secretary, Chimbii Farmers' Cooperative, Zambia tells about her experience as a farmer working with P4P:

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Smallholder farmers account for 90 percent of national maize production in Zambia. However, small-scale farmers face a great deal of challenges accessing formal markets. Most are located in remote rural areas with poor infrastructure – especially roads – and little access to important price information. The World Food Programme (WFP) Purchase for Progress (P4P) project supports farmers to overcome these challenges by providing them with access to crucial resources and encouraging them to work together in farmers’ organizations.

Increasing farmers’ access to simple technologies for storage, treatment and processing can substantially improve grain quality and contribute to reducing post-harvest losses. In Burkina Faso, P4P-supported farmers’ organizations participated in a WFP action research trial, providing specialized training and access to storage equipment.

Today, P4P is building on the success of the trial in collaboration with a variety of partners, including local entrepreneurs, to provide smallholders with equipment for the post-harvest treatment of crops. Tools such as threshers and blowers can decrease the time and effort farmers spend treating their harvests, as well as improving crop quality and reducing post-harvest losses.

Promoting local innovation

Abdou Sanou is a farmer and an entrepreneur. Working from Bobo-Dioulasso, a hub for agricultural production in Burkina Faso, he has developed a number of agricultural tools which are now benefitting P4P-supported farmers’ organizations. “I’m interested in finding solutions to things that make small farmers suffer,” he says.

In 2012, Abdou was approached by Fédération des Professionnels Agricoles du Burkina (Federation of Agricultural Professionals of Burkina Faso, FEPAB), a national umbrella farmers’ organization that participated in the P4P pilot. FEPAB asked Abdou to design a new type of thresher for the diverse crops grown by smallholders in Burkina Faso—notably maize, sorghum, millet and cowpeas.  Most farmers grow at least two of these crops to feed their families and sell to local markets. Because other threshers work only with one crop – due to differences in grain or seed size and plant type – these farmers would need multiple machines.

Abdou immediately accepted the challenge. “I couldn’t sleep for days,” he recalls. “I kept a notebook next to my bed to sketch ideas as they came to me.” His dedication, and lack of sleep, paid off. The tool he developed has several easily-exchangeable sorters for use with differently sized grain, and a textured cover that can release even small grains of millet from their shells. This allows farmers to efficiently thresh maize, sorghum, millet and cowpeas without damaging the grain. This also simplifies the time-consuming and labour-intensive task of removing grains from shells or husks.

The thresher under construction in Abdou's workshop. Copyright: WFP/Ismael Nignan

Access to quality markets

Local manufacturers have the ability to create equipment which responds directly to farmers’ needs and make adjustments as necessary. Abdou was able to constantly improve his creation by communicating with farmers, particularly through consultation with the national P4P Stakeholder Consultation Group co-led by the Government and WFP. His latest model has wheels in response to farmers’ comments that the equipment was difficult to transport from one site to another.

With the farmers’ stamp of approval, P4P and partners have begun purchasing equipment from Abdou and other artisans. In early 2015, P4P provided post-harvest handling equipment to six farmers’ organizations, including four locally-manufactured blowers and mechanized threshers. The farmers’ organizations are responsible for the maintenance of the equipment, with individual farmers paying a small fee for its use. Each organization participated in training on the equipment’s use and upkeep organized by a team of local manufacturers and P4P staff. The engagement of artisans in these trainings allowed farmers to voice concerns with the tools and fix minor problems right away.

Farmers have quickly put the equipment to use, benefiting from the reduced time required to treat the grain. Union des Groupements de Producteurs des Céréales à Nyala (Union of Cereal Producing Groups from Nyala, UGPCER), has already processed 600 bags – 60 metric tons (mt) – of grain with Abdou’s universal thresher. When a replacement part was needed, farmers knew who to call—and Abdou had them up and running in no time. This resolved difficulties which can arise with imported equipment, for which it can be difficult to find replacement parts locally.

Looking forward

P4P also provided farmers’ organizations with management tools to record the amount of grain processed. This allows them to demonstrate the financial benefits of using the equipment as opposed to traditional techniques and encourages organizations to consider purchasing similar equipment on their own. Abdou is currently working to obtain a patent for his universal thresher, a tool unlike any other on the market. He also hopes to open a training center for youth.

P4P in Burkina Faso will continue to support innovation to reduce post-harvest losses. A joint effort to reduce post-harvest losses was recently launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and WFP to scale up best practices for reducing food losses.

Story by Eliza Warren-Shriner

Improved post-harvest handling techniques and technologies are key to increasing the quantity and quality of crops farmers and their families can sell and eat. In Burkina Faso, P4P and partners, including local entrepreneurs, are working together to support the development, manufacture and sale of equipment that can reduce post-harvest losses. These efforts are improving the tools available to smallholder farmers and supporting the growth of local businesses.