Small-scale farmers in Malawi latest beneficiaries under UN local purchase scheme

Stacking supermarket shelves in Malawi

2 July 2010 – Malawi has become the latest country to join an innovative scheme by which the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) buys surplus from local farmers’ organizations for its aid operations, thereby helping to boost agricultural production and incomes in developing nations.

This week WFP bought 50 tons of maize from the Grain and Legumes Association, a farmers’ organization made up of over 95,000 smallholder farmers, as part of the agency’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative.

Now launched in 21 countries, the initiative uses WFP’s purchasing power to connect smallholder farmers to agricultural markets, helping them to successfully compete for bids and improve the lives of their families and communities.

The first-ever purchase in Malawi was made through the Agricultural Commodity Exchange for Africa (ACE), an emerging commodity exchange located in the capital, Lilongwe.

“WFP is working with the ACE to help them to sell their surplus by attracting more traders, leading to a more competitive and transparent market,” the agency’s Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, said in a statement, adding that WFP has already bought over 3,100 tons of food commodities through the exchange.

In addition to supporting the commodity exchange, the initiative is also buying directly from farmers’ organizations and helping them meet market standards.

Farmers’ organizations have used their profits to boost production and increase food security, including through investing some of their earnings in seeds and fertilizers for the next harvest.

It is estimated that by 2013, at least half a million smallholder farmers – mostly women – will have increased and improved their agricultural production and earnings thanks to the P4P programme, which was launched in 2008.

P4P is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Howard G. Buffett Foundation, European Commission, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Luxembourg, United States and Saudi Arabia.

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