Connecting farmers to markets
Smallholder farmers produce most of the developing world’s food. Still, many live in absolute poverty. Others earn just enough to get by.
WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme connects smallholder farmers to markets, giving them an opportunity to grow their businesses and improve their lives and those of their entire communities.
Investing in smallholder farmers has the potential to improve hundreds of millions of livelihoods worldwide. Investments in smallholder agriculture can also strengthen rural economies, build more effective markets and increase food security and nutrition for those who need it most. This is why empowering smallholder farmers to become competitive actors in global food systems is crucial in our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Zero Hunger.
Under P4P, stable demand from WFP and partners provides smallholder farmers with an incentive to invest. P4P also brings together a wide range of partners to provide smallholders with support across the entire value chain – from production to post-harvest, business skills and access to finance. A variety of activities and approaches can be used to meet the needs of smallholder farmers and agricultural markets, changing lives and livelihoods for the better.
We have been implementing P4P since 2008. The programme was initially piloted in 20 diverse countries, changing the way in which more than one million farmers engage with agricultural markets. P4P has been embraced as an investment in sustainable growth and transformation by host governments, private sector and other partners, and is expanding to reach more than 35 countries. Learn more about how P4P works.
Smallholder farmers face numerous obstacles. In particular, they struggle to reach formal markets that can provide them better prices for their crops. Since 2008, the World Food Programme (WFP) has been innovating procurement practices under Purchase for Progress (P4P) to connect these farmers to markets. Forward delivery contracts, or FDCs, are one of the innovations strengthening pro-smallholder procurement, and strengthening farmers’ financial inclusion.
Smallholder farmers across the globe face a barrage of forces — from globalization, technological advances, and market liberalization, to privatization and climate change — that are disrupting and realigning their livelihoods. Previously well-established systems of political, social, economic and environmental resilience are shifting. Conflict, natural disaster, pandemics and economic shocks are apparently increasing in frequency and severity.
Portable computers, tablets and smartphones have created new ways of accessing information. At the touch of a screen, we can check the bus schedule and decide whether to carry an umbrella. More and more, information and communication technology – often referred to as ICT – is also changing the way smallholder farmers do business.
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.