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P4P Stories from the field

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

Read more:

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:

Read more:

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.

The Government is expanding pro-smallholder support under “Common P4P”

[photo|646431]The Government of Rwanda is taking ownership of and scaling up P4P under a state-run initiative called “Common P4P” (CP4P), which increases the reach of effort to support smallholder farmers.

Government efforts have been key in improving quality control, supporting farmers with inputs and training, and providing farmers with a market under the National Strategic Grain Reserve. Between 2011 and 2014, the Government of Rwanda purchased more than 10,000 metric tons (worth an estimated US$4.5 million) of commodities from cooperatives under CP4P for the National Strategic Grain Reserve.

Other buyers are making more purchases from smallholder farmers

Under P4P, milling companies such as SOSOMA and MINIMEX are linked to P4P-supported cooperatives to demonstrate the feasibility of buying from smallholder farmers’ cooperatives. Many other buyers have also learned from the P4P approach to pro-smallholder procurement, and are now making purchases from smallholder farmers in the country.

Major buyers include the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Rwanda Cereal and Grain Corporation (RGCC) and SARURA Commodities Ltd. These buyers learned from the P4P experience, particularly on good practices for contracting with farmers and ensuring quality standards. 

Land fragmentation limits production

As a small country with a large and growing population, land fragmentation poses a major challenge to agriculture in Rwanda. Much of the country’s land is broken into small fragmented parcels. This means that one family may have small plots of land in many different locations, reducing the efficiency of their agricultural labour and restricting the use of mechanization.

Since 2007, the government has implemented a Crop Intensification Programme to mitigate this challenge, increasing productivity through land use consolidation and increased use of agricultural inputs. P4P and CP4P both responded to and stimulated the production surplus created by these efforts.  

Smallholder farmers are accessing loans

[photo|646433]P4P and partners work with the Rabobank Foundation to help smallholder farmers’ cooperatives access credit. Cooperatives have undergone training in financial literacy, improving their ability to manage finances and increasing their access to loans. Access to credit is vital for farmers to invest in increasing productivity and aggregating crops for sale, enabling the timely purchase of farming inputs – such as seeds and fertilizers – and allowing farmers’ organizations to pay smallholders with cash as soon as they have delivered their crops.

Officials from other governments are learning from Rwanda

P4P has facilitated exchange visits to Rwanda by government officials from countries including Burkina Faso, Ghana and Kenya. These visits have provided insight as to how government ownership and pro-smallholder market development policies can generate meaningful and lasting change.

Agriculture is Rwanda’s main economic sector, employing around 80 percent of the population. Though there is great potential for growth, farmers are limited by small farm sizes, declining soil fertility and limited access to value addition services. In collaboration with the national government, the World Food Programme's (WFP) Purchase for Progress (P4P) project is working to help smallholder farmers meet their potential to improve livelihoods and strengthen the national economy.

Purchase for Progress (P4P) supports smallholder farmers to supply food for school meals through home grown school feeding (HGSF) projects. HGSF projects are implemented by governments with the support of partners, including WFP. By linking local agricultural production with school meals, HGSF can increase enrolment and attendance, improve food security of school children, provide farmers with an assured market for their crops and boost local economies. Though this model is ideal, the reality of linking smallholder farmers and school feeding programmes can be challenging.

Cash Flow Constraints

The Ghana School Feeding Programme uses a decentralized model in which local governments appoint school caterers to purchase food and prepare meals. The caterers must purchase the food with their own funds, receiving reimbursement from the government only after the meals have been provided. The reimbursement process can take between six and nine months. This means that most caterers are unable to pay cash on delivery of crops, but purchase food on credit from traders who can afford to wait for repayment.

Nafisa Iddirisu is a member of the Bobgu Nye Yaa farmers’ group. She earned 1,260 Ghanaian Cedi (approximately US$327) for her sales of processed rice.

“By accessing good markets, I am able to get money to take very good care of myself and kids. I am also in the position to further cater for my children’s school needs, improve upon their health status, I can and will buy them good shoes and clothes. And then, even me, I can get money so I can get fertilizer for the farm during the next farming season.”

Copyright: WFP/Shehu Abdul-Karim

In general, this procedure makes it difficult for smallholder farmers to sell to school caterers, because they need cash to meet their expenses after harvest. After exhausting much of their resources during the lean season, farming families need to pay for food, school fees and medical services. Many must also repay debts acquired during the harvest period for agricultural inputs, such as fertilizer and tractor hire. 

Financial Institution Bridges Gap

In March 2014, the Bonzali Rural Bank signed an agreement with P4P partner Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), in collaboration with P4P and local government. This agreement provided school feeding caterers with loans, enabling them to pay farmers with cash on delivery. Under this agreement, SNV provided a fund as a guarantee against defaults and the Tamale government agreed to transfer caterers’ reimbursement directly to their accounts so the bank can deduct repayments automatically when due. This agreement allowed Bonzali Rural Bank to provide the loans with favourable interest rates and no penalty for late repayment due to delayed reimbursement by the government.

This partnership was the final step in a long series of efforts to link the Bobgu Nye Yaa Farmer’s Group to the school meals market. After the success of this a first round in May 2014, a second was extended to another 10 caterers in January 2015. Bobgu Nye Yaa, which receives support to improve production and marketing under P4P, has now supplied around US$6,230 worth (13 metric tons) of rice, beans and maize for meals in 15 schools.

“The proceeds of these sales have improved my business as well as the lives of my children. I also contributed some money to improving my wife’s business. I am also able to improve the dietary needs of my family. I also renovated my house and was even able to invest in my business by procuring more inputs and by investing in new crops like cowpea and rice,” said Alhassan Iddi, secretary of the Bobgu Nye Yaa farmers’ organization.

Challenges for Scale-Up

While sales made by smallholders to the Ghana HGSF programme are still small in scale, this agreement, carried out in close collaboration with partners, provides a potential good practice for future efforts. Though a great deal of progress has been made, challenges remain to apply this practice on a broader scale. Smallholder farmers require additional assistance to increase their productivity, storage capacity and access to credit to ensure they can consistently supply larger quantities of high quality crops throughout the year.

In Ghana, multiple challenges have been overcome to help a smallholder farmers’ organization market crops to the national school feeding programme. Small-scale farming families without household savings generally need immediate cash payments upon delivery of their crops, which most caterers supplying school meals in Ghana are unable to provide. Under Purchase for Progress (P4P), an agreement with a rural bank has helped bridge this gap, providing the Bobgu Nye Yaa farmers’ organization in the Tamale Metropolis with a new market.

Sierra Leone produced large quantities of rice before a protracted civil war. The conflict led to the prolonged displacement of people – most of whom were farmers – leaving many rice paddies overgrown and unusable. This made it difficult for farmers to rebuild their livelihoods once the conflict ended.

Today, smallholder farmers are some of the poorest and most food insecure communities in the country. To assist them to re-build their livelihoods, a Japanese bilateral project (JBP) is linking P4P with Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) to provide integrated support along the rice value chain. Under the FFA component, participants receive food assistance in exchange for work to improve infrastructure for rice production. Links with P4P provides other, higher capacity smallholder farmers with an assured market for their crops.

Support to vulnerable farming communities

Participants in the Japanese Bilateral Project harvest rice. Copyright: WFP/JBP

The WFP bilateral project – known as Projet Bas Fonds or in longhand “Community based sustainable food security of smallholder rice producer farmers in target countries of West Africa in recovery and development phase” – is being implemented in both Sierra Leone and Liberia. In Sierra Leone, the project works with 450 farming households, or 2,250 beneficiaries in Port Loko district.

Villagers receive technical support to rehabilitate 100 hectares of inland valley swamp with good water management infrastructure. Food assistance incentivizes and enables participants to undertake the physically demanding work to develop irrigation and drainage structures. It also ensures that participants have a secure food source until they begin profiting from their efforts after the first production season.

Mainstreaming P4P with FFA

Building upon the P4P experience, the programme requires that commodities used for food assistance be purchased locally using smallholder-friendly modalities. Wherever possible, commodities are gradually and progressively procured from P4P-supported farmers as their production increases. This promotes sustainability, boosting local economies. In 2014, despite challenges posed by the outbreak of the Ebola virus, WFP purchased more than 68 metric tons (mt) of rice locally for distribution to FFA beneficiaries in the Port Loko district of Sierra Leone. Farmers’ organizations and Agricultural Business Centres (ABCs) based in parts of the north, south and east of the country contributed to bulk sales of rice, with some US$50,000 put more directly in the pockets of smallholder farmers despite the Ebola outbreak.

Woman farmer poses with fertilizer bags
"Last year was the first time we sold as a group to formal market. We were happy because we received the money in bulk. Thanks to the sale to WFP, we were able to pay our members, increase the area of cultivation this year and buy 50 bags of fertilizer," says Rugiatu Kamara, chairlady of Talanesu farmers’ organization. Rugiatu is pictured with some of the bags of fertilizer purchased. Copyright: WFP

 “We are happy to contribute to the efforts that other farmers are doing in Port Loko through FFA activities. We as an ABC now have the capacity to produce surpluses and thanks to the sales to WFP, the rice that we produce can have a positive impact in other districts in Sierra Leone,” says Lansana Kgue, member of Kona Pindibu ABC, which contributed 15 mt of rice to these sales.

Sustaining and strengthening productivity

Synergies will continue to be strengthened through the continued emphasis on local purchases under the 2015 JBP Procurement Plan. Additionally, groups which have taken part in the rehabilitation project will be included in P4P training activities during the coming season. Topics include post-harvest handling, quality control and how to do business with WFP, providing farmers with the skills needed to graduate from FFA. This year, Food Assistance for Assets participants will be assessed for inclusion in WFP’s supplier list as potential vendors. P4P will continue to facilitate links between local rice suppliers, processors, private sector buyers and the farmers’ organizations participating in FFA.

A great deal of challenges remain to move toward long-term recovery following the Ebola outbreak. In the past year, restrictions on travel and gatherings meant that the expected level of support for infrastructure rehabilitation and agricultural practices could not be provided. Great strides have been made, including the start of local procurement in Sierra Leone under P4P. However, further efforts are required to increase smallholder farmers’ productivity. Integrated livelihood projects are crucial for the country’s long-term recovery to boost local economies and improve the food security of targeted groups.

Story by:

Diaby Bakalilou, Project Technical Adviser, Japanese Bilateral Project

Marta Ortiz, Sierra Leone Country Coordinator, (P4P)

In Sierra Leone, WFP is supporting smallholder farmers, paving the way for recovery after more than a decade of conflict. To boost local economies and improve food security, vulnerable farming families undertake swampland reclamation to build community agricultural assets. Smallholders with a higher capacity are supported by P4P to supply food for the programme.