13 October 2008 | Paul Snell
The World Food Programme (WFP) is changing the way it purchases from poor farmers in developing countries. The plan will help them to gain access to markets and improve economic development.
The Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative will be trialled in 21 developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America over the next five years. It aims to improve market access for local farmers by buying directly from agricultural associations, using forward contracting and ensuring payment is fair.
"The world's poor are reeling under the impact of high food and fuel prices and buying food assistance from developing world farmers is the right solution at the right time," said Josette Sheeran, WFP executive director.
The programme will receive $76 million (£43.3 million) in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Howard G Buffett Foundation and the Belgian government to help build capacity among farmers. The WFP estimated it would purchase 40,000 tonnes of food from the farmers in the first year of the scheme.
Nicole Menage, head of procurement at WFP, said partnerships with UN agencies, NGOs and governments, which provide technical, financial and infrastructure improvements, will be intensified. She added: "Buying through the P4P approach will most likely involve more risk, at least initially, because we would tend to purchase from newer, previously untested, suppliers in the pilot countries, so there will inevitably be a greater risk of poor performance."
The impact of the group's current local food procurement will also be evaluated.