WFP makes first local food purchase from small-scale Kyrgyz farmers
BISHKEK – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has for the first time bought wheat grain from small-scale farmers in Kyrgyzstan as part of a unique initiative to connect poorer farmers to markets.
The pilot initiative ‘Empowering Local Smallholder Farmers’ was made possible thanks to funding from the UN Peacebuilding Fund. Ithas supported 100 low-income farmers in Osh and Batken provinces.
WFP has selected low-income farmers who would otherwise not be able to sell their small wheat harvest at market price. They were selected according to vulnerability criteria such as family income rates, family size, number of children and presence of people with disabilities.
Small-scale farmers in Kyrgyzstan produce low volumes of harvest and struggle with poor logistics infrastructure. In addition, buyers do not visit them to collect the grain which forces them to deliver wheat to milling companies or middlemen. This significantly lowers their earnings.
“We are working to build sustainable food systems in Kyrgyzstan, which ensures that high-quality, locally-grown food is available to everyone, no matter what their income levels are,” said WFP Country Director in Kyrgyzstan Andrea Bagnoli. “Smallholder farmers, who produce most of Kyrgyzstan’s food, are critical to building such systems. Through this initiative we are creating a guaranteed market for their crops and supporting their resilience and food security.”
By purchasing smallholder farmers’ wheat harvest at competitive market prices, WFP is helping them invest their profits in boosting their production and becoming competitive players in the marketplace.
WFP uses this locally purchased wheat in its food assistance programmes inside the country. WFP projects include providing food assistance to vulnerable communities through including them in rural infrastructure improvements and skills training opportunities.
After laboratory tests for nutritional properties and quality, milling, blending with other wheat varieties and fortification, WFP received 180 tons of high-quality fortified wheat flour which was used as incentives for its Food-for-Assets and Food-for-Training activities in Osh and Batken Provinces.
Over 800 direct beneficiaries in Osh and Batken provinces have received locally produced food for participating in WFP field projects including the rehabilitation of drinking/irrigation water facilities in border areas of Batken Province. Such activities directly or indirectly reduce the drivers of conflict over natural resources in multi-ethnic communities and promoted peaceful cross-border economic relations.
“Symbolically, food from local farmers promotes peace and development in border areas of Kyrgyzstan as it triggered inter-community dialogue and collaboration for joint planning and implementation of projects that address access to critical resources such as water,” added Bagnoli.
In the Kyrgyz Republic, through its current five-year plan, WFP aims to improve access to nutritious food for all primary schoolchildren across the country and support over 100,000 poor families – particularly women – in the most underdeveloped communities with a view to improving people’s livelihoods and their ability to cope with disasters and climate change.
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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.