Managers and technical staff from nine agricultural organizations and strategic partners of WFP gathered to formulate the annual plan of work for the "Purchase for Progress" (P4P) project in Nicaragua. During the two days of planning, the group established that they will continue focusing on improving the productivity and the quality of the basic grain they produce, in addition to improving sales and carrying out good production practices, focusing on its approach to gender and the country's policies of Food and Nutrition Sovereignty and Security.
Representatives from governmental institutions (Purchase for Progress' partners): the Ministry of Family, Community, Cooperative and Associative Economics, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAGFOR) and the Nicaraguan Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) participated in the activity. WFP Country Director, Helmut W. Rauch, welcomed the 40 participants, highlighting the importance of combining each organization’s strengths in order to strengthen work and carry out joint projects with the Nicaraguan people’s future in mind.
Twenty countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa participate in the Purchase for Progress initiative. In Nicaragua, 2,500 small holder producers of maize, rice and beans of nine cooperatives from four municipalities in northern Nicaragua, participate in the project. In collaboration with specialized technical institutes, the project promotes training and practical actions on integrated crop management, post harvesting handling, good agricultural practices and appropriate technology to improve the production and quality of the grain. The implementation of Purchase for Progress project in Nicaragua is funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
The experience, which allows WFP to purchase food for its food assistance operations on a global level, is also used to link small farmers with new markets, secure and sustainable, which pay fair prices for their produce. Between 2008 and 2012, WFP signed 47 contracts which ensured it would buy directly from small holder producers from Nicaraguan agricultural organizations, acquiring 2,331 metric tons of maize and rice. This provided the producers with a new market, which in turn improved the quality of their production, in order that they could meet the standards required in a formal market. The investment in these local purchases reached US$913,000
"As producers, achieve the appropriate quality standards to sell our produce to other buyers (who are not intermediaries) is a great challenge. However, we can do it by using good seeds for planting and carrying out good agricultural practices. With good agronomic management, our quality standards increase," said Augusto César Matute, farmer and President of the Farmers' Cooperative Association for Integral Sustainable Development (ACADIS), who spoke with the manager of the cooperative, Alejandro Aguirre and Edwin Sevilla, head of the WFP's office in the department of Nueva Segovia.
During the closing ceremony, the Director of Agricultural Production and Marketing for the Ministry of Family Economics, Josefa Torres, highlighted the important role that P4P plays in working in association with government institutions and with cooperatives, with a focus on gender issues and alliances. "The Operating Plan has a great focus on gender issues. It doesn't treat a woman as one of the decorations, but as an integral part of the job," said Torres in this picture with the WFP Country Director in Nicaragua.
The "Purchase for Progress" P4P project takes gender issues into account at every level, recognising the important role of rural women in food production; moreover, the project promotes the adoption of agricultural technology which is friendly to the environment (zero tillage, soil and water conservation, etc) and strengthens organization and partnership in order to facilitate the access of small farmers to the means of production, services and marketing.