05 July 2007 | Paul Snell
The World Food Programme (WFP) is to assess the impact of its own procurement on developing economies.
Nicole Menage, chief of the food procurement service at the UN agency, said while it had always aimed to help develop economies through its purchasing, the effectiveness of its approaches had not been evaluated.
"We have had activities in the past but we weren't documenting the results," she said. "We want to get a firmer handle on the costs and benefits of the trade-offs when trying the various approaches. We all believe local procurement has a positive effect, but our ability to measure that and assess it is perhaps a bit limited."
Last year the WFP purchased $601 million (£300 million) of food in 84 countries, 42 per cent of which came from those with low income. The group attempts to buy as much as possible from local or regional areas.
According to Menage, much of the WFP's new focus on procurement has come from the group's executive director Josette Sheeran, who took up the role in April.
"Food security requires both access to food and sustainable production," Sheeran said. "Procurement can provide a vital link between the two at local, regional or international level."