Cashing in on cowpeas
Alfredo Muarapaz did not expect such a windfall.
“I used the money to buy school things for my children, dishes and clothes for my family and even some tools to improve my house,” said Muarapaz, a poor, semi-subsistence farmer, who pocketed around US$50 from the sale of his small cowpea surplus to the World Food Programme (WFP).
It may not sound like much but Muarapaz lives in Mozambique – a country where over a third of the population survives on less than US$1 per day.
And it is certainly enough of an incentive for him to grow a larger surplus next year.
“I will plant two hectares and hope to grow 800kg of cowpeas,” said Muarapaz, who sold just 150kg this year. “I have not grown many beans until now because I didn’t have a buyer but now that there is a secure buyer, I will produce a lot more beans.”
This optimistic production plan is exactly the response that WFP is hoping to foster among smallholder farmers with Purchase for Progress (P4P).
By providing a reliable market for smallholder farmers, local cooperatives and small traders, WFP is hoping to put more money into the pockets of poorer farmers and to provide them with a powerful incentive to invest and increase production.
In Mozambique, WFP has already finalised its first P4P contract, agreeing to pay US$145,000 for 250 tons of cowpeas from IKURU – a cooperative based in the northern province of Nampula, which works with 9,500 small-scale farmers, including Muarapaz.
“The potential for cowpeas is very large but in the past there was no market so farmers only grew them for consumption,” said Moises Raposo, General Manager of IKURU.
WFP is planning to scale up its P4P purchases in Mozambique over the coming years, aiming to buy around 22,000 tons of cereals and pulses between now and 2013 – and to pump millions of dollars into poor rural communities.
By buying directly from IKURU, WFP was able to offer the farmers a good price and still save US$150 per ton when compared to the prices offered by the larger traders.
“It is not only me that did not have a reason to cultivate cowpeas but the whole community,” said Muarapaz, who lives in the neighbouring village of Namareco. “But now we will have vast areas of cowpeas and we’ll put in the effort to have big fields.”
And he already has his shopping list prepared for next year. Top of the list is a bike to help his family get to hospital and his eldest child to school.
“My son is in secondary school but it is a long way from Namareco,” said Muarapaz. “I want to do whatever I can to support him and a bike will help.”