Learning about high impact interventions and sharing them with other key players is at the core of P4P. A comprehensive monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system is in place to help understand how to sustainably engage smallholder farmers in markets. Learn more about the recently completed baseline surveys, which establish a basis for measuring the programme's impacts.
The Purchase for Progress M&E system collects information from both farmers’ organizations (FOs) as well as smallholder farmers. The objectives are to learn whether farmers’ organizations have increased capacity to aggregate and market their smallholder members’ commodities; and whether smallholder farmers are increasing production, have better market access, and have improved incomes and livelihoods. The indicators used regarding the FOs are: organizational & marketing capacity; services provided to members; storage capacity; sales, contract performance; market access, number/diversity of buyers; ability to aggregate, size of sales; and, marketing margins. Regarding the farmers, the indicators are: marketable surpluses produced/sold; household income; food security; assets; net buyer/seller status; and, demographic data. Baseline surveys, which also include a control group, have been concluded in 17 of the 21 P4P pilot countries. We highlight results from El Salvador, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
The results indicate that P4P participating farmers cultivate slightly more land than do non-P4P farmers on average and produce more maize and beans. P4P participating farmers also sell a substantially larger percentage of the beans they produce. Other crops sold by the sampled households are maize and sorghum. Sampled households were selling at least 30% of their harvested maize and beans and at least a quarter of their sorghum production. Many smallholder farmers have joined Farmers’ Organizations (FOs) in order to improve access to markets through group marketing. However, these FOs generally lack the capacity or resources to aggregate sufficient quantities or qualities to satisfy large buyers such as WFP. Consequently, many farmers have few marketing options and sell largely to traders at the farm gate for prices that are too low to provide an incentive to invest in producing additional surpluses. The baseline results for El Salvador reveal that presently neither P4P nor non-P4P farmers channel a large proportion of their sales through their FOs. One of the key indicators that P4P will track is the increased capacity of FOs to aggregate and sell staple commodities on behalf of their members, as well as the extent to which smallholder/low income farmers increasingly entrust their FOs to market staple commodities on their behalf.
Smallholder farmers generally produce at or only slightly above subsistence levels, due to a combination of factors including use of labour intensive cultivation methods, limited access to inputs and even low levels of labour. WFP is using its demand to catalyse supply-side support to assist smallholder farmers and FOs increase their capacity for agricultural production and market access. Given the central role of agriculture in the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, an increase in the production and sales of agricultural commodities by these households will have a significant impact on their household income and livelihoods. Similar marketing challenges were observed for both P4P and non-P4P participating households, mainly: unpredictable prices (37%), low prices in accessible markets (39%), trade restrictions (14.5%), and limited access to markets (9.5%).
The main staple crops planted (by both P4P participating and non-P4P farmers) are maize and beans, while sunflower and coffee are the principal cash crops. Sorghum, cassava and paddy are planted in smaller quantities by the sampled farmers. Both P4P groups and non-P4P groups appear to be equal in terms of maize yields, with an overall average yield of 0.91 mt/ha. According to the 2003 agricultural census, maize yields of smallholder/low income farmers ranged from 0.3 mt/ha to 1.3 mt/ha. The yields for beans (0.41 mt/ha) reported by the sampled households similarly follows the reported national average of 0.45 mt/ha (National Sample Census of Agriculture, 2003). The ability of the smallholder/low income households to produce and sell a surplus of their staple commodities is a fundamental requirement to enable them to access markets and increase their income. The baseline results however reveal that less than 40% of sampled households sold maize in the 2008/09 season, while more households (60%) had sold a portion of their bean harvest. For the vast majority of households (80%) who did not sell any of their harvest in the 2008/09 season, this was because they did not produce any surplus. Farmers principally depended on their own marketing efforts to sell their commodity, with only 5% reporting having sold staple commodities through their Farmers’ Organizations.