about the author
Annie Emberland has worked in WFP’s Washington office since 2013. Previously, she worked as a production assistant for NBC Nightly News, and earlier as an environmental reporter in Maryland, US.
In your city, there might be a community garden where locals can grow crops to bring food home to their families. If not, then your family might visit a market where you purchase produce from local farmers. In the developing countries that are part of WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme, this same process is occurring for local smallholder farmers.
Around the world, both where you live and where WFP is providing food assistance, people need an income to support their families. Smallholder farmers in the developing world are no different. They need to produce crops to generate a steady income. In some parts of the world, though, poor conditions coupled with limited training and tools make productive harvests difficult to achieve.
P4P is one solution. The programme encourages agricultural development and, as a result, market development. In 2008, P4P launched in 20 pilot countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, giving smallholder farmers a greater incentive to invest in their crops. Farmers are trained in agricultural and businesses practices with the added incentive that WFP will be a reliable buyer at fair prices.
On average WFP reaches 90 million people in 80 countries with food assistance each year, meaning WFP buys huge amounts of food, often where it also provides food assistance. In 2012 alone, WFP purchased US$1.1 billion worth of food, more than 75 percent of which was purchased in developing countries. The P4P helps local smallholder farmers grow food that WFP can then purchase for use in programmes like school meals.
As for any farmer around the world, those in developing countries must learn the best techniques for harvesting crops in their weather conditions for the most productive outputs possible. WFP provides farmers with the training and other resources to help them improve their crops in sustainable ways. Through P4P, WFP looks for ways to not only purchase from smallholder farmers, but also to find opportunities for farmers to grow their businesses to support themselves in the long-term.
Here’s proof of P4P’s impact in the developing world:
Meet Awa in Mali. She and other women farmers were able to transition from subsistence farming to large-scale crop production with higher yielding seeds. They use the niébé (cowpea, or black-eyed-pea) and millet to feed the families and sell the surplus. In 2013, these women had 14 metric tons of surplus niébé —the equivalent of US$13,500. With her earnings, Awa can now afford to pay school fees for her children.
These P4P-supported farmers in El Salvador are looking to expand their business beyond WFP. Over the span of five years, WFP trained the farmers on things like managing a small business and staple grain markets. They are now producing high quality grains to sell in a competitive marketplace—soon with barcodes and packaging.
In Burkina Faso, Biba is the leader of her P4P-supported farmers’ organization. She’s also the head of her household and is responsible for bringing in enough income to feed, house and pay for school for five children. When her group started working with P4P in 2010, they received training on things like agricultural techniques and contract negotiation. Plus, they received loans that helped them start growing vegetables and selling maize flour. By her third year, Biba had earned US$1,000 and saved US$300 after providing for her family’s immediate needs. Biba continues to grow her business and plans to expand to include livestock breeding.
P4P is proof that, with access to proper training on techniques and the marketplace, smallholder farmers are fully capable of harvesting sustainable crops and making a living with them, no matter where there are in the world. In other words, farmers in the developing world are a lot like those in your community.
(From top, photos in text by: WFP/Daouda Guirou, WFP/Maritza Morales, WFP/Alladari Traore)