As farmer Balla TOGOLA listens to the technician explain the process of transforming maize into enriched flour, he cannot keep his eyes of the industrial machines at the Moulin du Sahel (MDS). ‘‘I've never seen such big machinery in my life!’’ he exclaimed as he and other farmers continued their tour of the factory. ‘‘We are leaving with a firm commitment’’, he added. The commitment is to supply 500 metric tons of maize to the MDS factory by December 2013.
As part of the Purchase for Progress (P4P) pilot in Mali, farmers’ organizations are increasingly linking to the food processing sector. Such connections are made through exchange visits, like the one by the Union of Maize Producers from Diedougou (USCPMD) to Moulin du Sahel, one of the biggest food processing factories in Mali. USCPMD has over 1,900 members and, in 2013, has already supplied WFP with 450 metric tons of millet and sorghum, most of it through forward contracting. And they hope to do more this year - as the higher price received for a quality product is an incentive for farmers to strive for the highest standards in post harvest handling.
As for MDS, the factory is keen to purchase locally produced maize. In 2012, MDS had to import maize (from a distance of more than 5,000 km) after failing to find locally reliable farmers organizations/structures than could deliver large quantities.
For its part, WFP can now purchase enriched maize flour locally in Mali at competitive prices. This is a huge time advantage in a landlocked country like Mali where delivbery lead times can be up to three months.
Better perspectives for poor small-holders’ farmers
‘‘With the profits from our cereals deliveries to WFP this year, we already bought 15 mt of 'Sotubaka' maize seeds and we intend to increase our productivity to supply more to MDS’’ says Balla.
The Sotubaka local variety is better able to resist humidity, produces higher yields, and produces early , which is crucial in a country where rainfall is increasingly scarce.
From the business side, MDS is looking to buy new machinery for processing millet , widely consumed in Mali, and produced by all the 11 farmers’ organizations involved in P4P.
‘‘WFP will continue to support such initiatives that allow Malians to feed Malians’’ says Sally Haydock, the WFP Representative in Mali.
WFP plans to purchase 1,000 mt of enriched maize flour this year for school meals programmes. This includes 149 schools in the Timbuktu region and 128 in Gao, in northern Mali, which have just reopened after more than nine months of occupation by armed groups.
In 2013, WFP is assisting more than one million people in Mali through two main programmes: an Emergency Operation for people affected by the conflict and a Country Programme responding to chronic needs in areas of the south that are still recovering from the impact of the 2012 drought.