Ethiopia: Farmers Break Down Barriers To Markets

David Tibo tilling his fields with the new oxen he was able to buy thanks to the profits he turned during his first year as a P4P participant. Copyright: WFP/Judith Schuler

“I’m never going back to poverty,” says David Tibo, a farmer in southern Ethiopia who turned his biggest profit ever this year with the help of a WFP pilot programme known as Purchase for Progress. The project helps poor farmers raise yields, improve quality and become competing players in local markets.

AWASSA – David says taking his produce to market used to mean getting cheated by local middlemen. But that was before the farming cooperative he belongs to got involved with the Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme in 2009, which gave him the tools and the know-how to grow more and better food.

Now he’s selling his corn for fair market prices to WFP, a step that’s paving the way for his entry into local markets. After a year on the programme, David tells us about how his life has changed.

How P4P Works in Ethiopia

The P4P programme in Ethiopia is a five-year pilot project, in which WFP will purchase over 126,500 metric tons from around 67,000 farmers, largely through farming cooperatives.

How did you get involved with P4P?

I first heard about it in November 2009 when the farmer’s union invited me to take part in a training course. I learned a lot, especially about how important it is to be able to guarantee quality standards if you want to compete on the market.

What else did you learn?

I learned how to work without middle men, which makes a big difference because they used to take all my profits. I also learned about crop diversification. I only used to grow corn, but now I’m looking into growing other crops as well.

Do you think the programme has helped improve your harvests?

Absolutely. This January, I sold 4.5 metric tons of corn to WFP through the farming cooperative. I made 2,700 Ethiopian Birr (about USD $200) more than last year.

What did you do with the money?

I bought a pair of oxen. Before, if I wanted to till my fields, I had to borrow my neighbor’s ox. If he couldn’t lend it to men then I had to wait. It was a huge waste of time. Now that I have my own oxen, I’ll be able to get more work done and, hopefully, raise my yields even more next year.

What are your plans for the future?

I’d like to rent some extra land to grow more crops on. I’d also like to buy a mill that I can use to grind my own corn and rent out to the people in the village. If things go really well, I’m going to send the rest of my children to the school in Awassa (the regional capital, about an hour away from where David lives). Two of my children are already there.

How has your life changed overall since you started on the programme?
I know now that I will never go back to poverty. Before, it didn’t matter how hard I worked because the middle men were cheating me and I couldn’t make any money. But they can’t cheat me anymore. I have a better customer now and I’m going to keep finding more.
Connecting farmers to markets

With the P4P programme, WFP is leveraging is purchasing power to bridge the gap between farmers and markets. P4P pilots in 21 countries are giving farmers the means and incentive to grow more and better food.
Find out more about how P4P works.

Lydia Wamala
(24 June 2010)