New WFP Initiative to connect Smallholder Farmers in Rwanda to Markets

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has launched an initiative under which small-scale farmers in Rwanda will be supported in transitioning from subsistence farming to market-oriented agriculture.

The Patient Procurement Platform (PPP) will help farmers enter into contracts with buyers for their crops before planting.

Jean-Pierre de Margerie, the WFP Rwanda country director, said the new approach intends to help farmers to put themselves in a better position from start to finish, and confidently produce more crops to sell because they know they have a market for what they grow.

“The assurance of market for farmers’ produce will help farmers acquire bank loans or other financial services which they can then use to buy better seeds, fertilisers and other agricultural inputs to boost production. This encourages farmers to become more resilient through better planning and assured sales,” the official said.

Rwanda is one of the first three countries in the world where WFP is pioneering the PPP initiative this year. In Rwanda, the initiative is assisting 47 co-operatives with a combined membership of 17,000 farmers during the current planting season to sign contracts to sell over 8,000 tonnes of maize to the Rwanda Grain and Cereals Corporation (RGCC).

Through the PPP, participating smallholder farmers in the country can increase sales and be able to expand their operations and produce more to improve their income.

The experience will also better equip them to engage with commercial markets.

PPP builds on WFP’s earlier work through the Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative that began in 2009. P4P has used WFP’s role as a major buyer of food to help connect small-scale farmers to markets through various different approaches.

The new initiative takes that experience a step further, beyond spot contracts to longer-term deals made before planting. It also aims at broadening the approach to include other commercial produce buyers. The initiative works with a variety of public and private sector partners, including financial institutions that can provide loans, crop insurance and other financial services.

Past experience has shown that without a predictable market for produce, small-scale farmers lose interest in expand production or seek better markets to earn more from their effort.

Increasing food production, particularly by small-scale farmers, is an important part of building their resilience as well as working towards the global goal of eliminating hunger by 2030, a target set by the international community this year as one of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Linking farmers to other markets and buyers besides WFP via pre-planting contracts with commercial buyers acts as a catalyst, so farmers can gain early access to finance and other necessary goods and services. This is a clear step towards Zero Hunger,” said Corinne Fleischer, the WFP supply chain division global director.

“We call it ‘patient’ procurement because contracts are being concluded and secured long before harvest, and therefore for periods longer than the typical spot contract,” said Fleischer.

“This allows farmers to better plan, invest and finance their production – leading ultimately to higher income for them,” he added.

This year the Patient Procurement Platform will reach farmers in 13 districts.

More than half of the participating co-operatives have previously received WFP support under the P4P initiative.

Source: New Times

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