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P4P: Rome Meeting Looks At Lessons Learned

Smallholder farmers in developing countries would have much to gain from vibrant agricultural markets. How to foster the development of these markets and ensure poor farmers have access to them are the key questions on the table in Rome at the Purchase for Progress Annual Review Meeting on 8-10 December.

ROME -- The Rome meeting, to be attended by 130 participants, will examine experiences over the past year in the 21 pilot countries where P4P has worked to assist smallholder farmers access agricultural markets and help them become competitive players in the market place.

“This will be a tremendous opportunity to learn from each other”, said Ken Davies, P4P Coordinator. “We are not only interested in successes; equally important is to know what has not worked and why.”

Various approaches

Government representatives, members of more than 50 partner organizations, development practitioners, donors, private sector and WFP staff  will review the variety of approaches to assist smallholder farmers become competitive players in agricultural markets.

One key lesson so far is that there is no ‘right’ approach. 

In Uganda, WFP supports the Warehouse Receipt System (WRS) through which smallholder farmers can deposit their commodities in a certified warehouse in return for a receipt that can be exchanged for cash at a local financial institution. The value of the receipt is, on average, equivalent to 60 percent of the market value of the deposited commodity, and the balance is paid after the commodity is sold less storage and cleaning costs. Through the WRS farmers can access cash at the harvest time without having to sell their produce in a rush.

Market skills

Meanwhile, in Mali, P4P partner, Afrique Verte, works with farmers’ and women’s organizations to teach them fundamental market skills like quality and packaging standards, or the relevance of delivery on time. Africa Verte educates farmers about how the market works to ensure their sustainable integration into the economy. As a result, one of the farmer’s organizations involved, Faso Jigi, was able to win a competitive tender to supply 600 mt of cereals to WFP.

In Zambia, WFP is working with the Zambia Agricultural Commodity Exchange (ZAMACE), a recently established public trading platform. WFP is buying food commodities from the Exchange helping it become a robust market outlet that promotes price transparency and provides an alternative market outlet for farmers. Meanwhile, WFP and partners are supporting farmers’ organisations meet the quantity and quality standards required.