Afghanistan: Local purchases of wheat for hungry Afghans

In Afghanistan, WFP is for the first time buying wheat directly from smallholder farmers and their organizations through the pilot Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative. Almost 4,500 metric tons of wheat has been contracted from four farmers’ organisations in the provinces of Takhar, Kunduz and Faryab.

So far, more than 3,700 metric tons has been delivered to WFP warehouses in Faizabad and Mazar. By providing a market, P4P will increase farmers’ demand for inputs and will support partners who are developing local capacity to produce certified seeds. P4P will engage with those partners to provide training and technical assistance required by farmers to increase production.

During the first quarter of 2011, an additional 500 metric tons of wheat might be purchased from smallholders – suppliers have already been identified and procurement is ongoing. The quantities for wheat purchases are reduced compared with initial plans due to a lack of funds available for local procurement. Especially in the province of Takhar, a large surplus would be available for WFP’s procurement.

Buying the wheat locally means WFP can distribute it to beneficiaries more swiftly than usual, reducing the impact of the shortage that threatened winter assistance to a million Afghans following flooding in neighbouring Pakistan earlier this year.

Apart from purchasing directly from the smallholders, WFP had announced in December 2010 its plan to also purchase 13,000 metric tons of wheat – enough to feed more than 500,000 people for three months – from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock. The agency will be able to stave off a potentially critical shortage of wheat in some regions through buying locally in Afghanistan in the largest quantity ever.