Making a Song and Dance of P4P in Uganda

Purchase for Progress (P4P) focuses on strengthening the capacity of farmers’ organizations (FO) to aggregate and sell commodities to quality buyers, such as WFP. Through partnerships with the government, indigenous and international NGOs, and others, P4P has provided smallholder farmers with the necessary training and equipment to increase their production, improve crop quality and strengthen FO marketing capacity.

Post-harvest management, training in farming as a business and embracing development programmes are not subjects you would usually think would inspire a song but that is exactly what has happened in Anaka in northern Uganda.  A group of female farmers have composed the songs, which are all related to WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme, to show their gratitude for the support they have received and how their lives have been transformed.

“There was tension between my husband and I as we were extremely poor and couldn’t pay for the children to go to school,” explained Juliet Atim. “My father, who was a teacher, assisted us for a while but he was then killed. Therefore it means a lot to me to now have enough money to be able to educate my children. My first born Brian Okeroyot is 25 years and has completed university and will graduate soon.”

In 2013, Juliet earned an amount of money she had never touched before – some US$1,132. She used some of it to pay school fees for her four children and to plant pine trees. As the pines sprout from the ground, she expects to use them as collateral to obtain a bank loan. This loan will then enable her to plant citrus trees and to begin to build a house for her family.

Working in partnership

WFP has been working with the NGO Action Contre La Faim (ACF) in northern Uganda since 2009, a few years after the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency came to an end in the region. WFP sponsors trainings conducted by ACF in post-harvest management, leadership, group dynamics and farming as a business. WFP has also provided a community grain store to enable smallholder farmer groups to store, bulk and market their grain more profitably.

Florence Akot is extremely pleased that she has learnt about post-harvest handling, the power in group marketing and in waiting for a better price. From her maize earnings this year, Florence bought a piece of land and planted more maize and groundnuts.

“I learnt from WFP and ACF how to select the right enterprise. I know I will have a market for the maize and even more for the groundnuts. I will sell some of the groundnuts and keep the rest for eating at home,” she explained with a smile.

Improved prices year after year

“Each year, we have noted an increment in membership, bulking and improved prices at the store,” said Robert Dikua, a project manager at ACF.

In 2011 only 4.5 metric tons of grain was bulked together but in 2014 the farmers put together over 375 metric tons, which helped them sell their grain at a better price.  Between 2008 and 2013, farmer groups trading through the WFP-sponsored stores across Uganda sold their grain for over 220 percent more than their counterparts.

As the women start to perform their songs and dance, a man playing a locally crafted instrument joins in. They even begin to sing about Juliet’s pine trees and her future citrus trees.