Purchase for Progress

Place: Not Applicable, _NO_MAIN_REGION
Sustainable development of small rural communities Sustainable development of small rural communities
Total Budget: € 125.000.000,00 | Period: From September 2009 To December 2013


As the world’s largest humanitarian agency, World Food Programme (WFP) is a major buyer of staple food. Purchase for Progress (P4P) is a pilot initiative that has successfully enabled WFP to try out new ways of leveraging its procurement footprint to promote agricultural and market development. Over the past 5 years, the pilot has experimented with smallholder-friendly procurement models targeting smallholder farmers in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

The rationale behind P4P is to link WFP’s demand for staple food commodities, with the technical expertise of a wide range of partners. This collaboration provides smallholders with the skills and knowledge to improve their agricultural production, and an incentive to do so, as they have an assured market in which to sell their surplus crops. 

By boosting smallholders’ agricultural production and increasing their access to markets, P4P is contributing to poverty reduction and is addressing the root causes of hunger. 


World Food Programme P4P - Italy

Lead applicant

International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD_ - Italy

Initiative partner

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - Italy

Initiative partner

Using WFP's substantial procurement demand AS a powerful tool to connect smallholder farmers to markets, developing markets and rural communities while simultaneously providing food assistance to the most vulnerable and food insecure.

P4P has identified procurement models that have empowered smallholder farmers financially and socially. As a result of focusing particularly on women farmers, P4P has seen them gain greater control over their lives and enhanced voice at community and household level.

P4P presents governments and development partners with an innovative approach to support smallholders and achieve inclusive growth. P4P has shown that linking smallholder farmers to formal markets is a viable investment in countries which have an enabling environment.

WFP connects smallholder farmers in Malawi to the Commodity Exchange P4P-supported smallholder farmers’ organizations are now marketing their produce to WFP and the national food reserve through online bids on the Agricultural Commodity Exchange for Africa (ACE) platform. Copyright: WFP/Charles Hatch-Barnwell

Efforts to support family farming can facilitate rural development and lead to increased nutrition, resilience, and incomes for rural peoples. Though they are faced by many challenges, family farmers have the potential to contribute to global food security. However, they require technical support and conducive policy environments in order to do so. The P4P programme has been adjusted to fit the diverse contexts in the 20 countries it was piloted in.

Supporting governments to develop smallholder-friendly procurement models In Tanzania, some 85 percent of the country’s maize is produced by smallholder farmers. WFP is now buying from the government’s National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) with the condition that it purchase commodities from smallholder farmers’ organizations. Copyright: WFP/Jennifer Kunz

During the pilot period P4P has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of farmers, especially women, by supporting them to grow more, sell more and earn more, becoming more competitive players in their local markets.Under the P4P pilot treatment period from September 2008 to December 2013, WFP has purchased food worth over US$ 148 million under P4P modalities. Nearly 800,000 farmers have received training.

Achievements: http://www.wfp.org/content/p4p-achievements

Consolidated FO and Training Report: http://www.wfp.org/content/p4p-farmers-organizations-and-capacity-development-final-consolidated-report

Support of FOs: P4P acted as a catalyst partnerships:http://www.wfp.org/content/p4p-partnerships-final-consolidated-report


Supporting women farmers Women farmers in West Africa have been encouraged to increase their productivity and consumption of a nutritious legume similar to cowpea called niébé. Because niébé is traditionally grown and marketed by women, it can increase their income while improving household nutrition. In Mali, thanks to support from male family members and traditional leaders, women have been able to access land individually and as groups to increase their productivity of and profit from sales of niébé. Copyright: WFP/Ken Davies

Involving over 500 partnerships, P4P has facilitated powerful and novel partnerships in staple food supply chains. Through these partnerships, P4P has provided the impetus for public, private and civil society actors to leverage their investments to better respond to needs and potential of smallholders.
Nearly 800,000 farmers have received training. Of this, more than 200,000 were women who received training in improved production, post-harvest handling and other key agribusiness skills.

Over 450,000 metric tons of food valued at more than US$ 177 million was contracted either directly from farmers’ organizations and small/medium traders or indirectly through aggregation systems such as warehouse receipt systems, commodity exchanges and national grain reserves. Of this, 81% was delivered. In addition, commodities sold to markets beyond WFP total over 156,000 mt, at a value of at least US$60 million. 


WFP increased food purchases under P4P to over US$ 148 million P4P has helped change WFP's procurement modalities to become more smallholder-friendly way while at the same time investing in developing the capacities of smallholder farmer to access formal markets. Copyright: WFP/Stephanie Savariaud

Field staff of different WFP units (P4P, Logistics, Procurement, Finance, etc) in the 20 P4P Pilot Countries: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia.
P4P coordination unit in WFP HQ.

Though significant progress has been made, smallholder farmers in developing countries continue facing many challenges. These include:
Access to credit: Though P4P has made much progress in linking smallholders to finance, the limited opportunities to access credit at affordable interest rates still poses major challenges.
Infrastructure: Poor road networks and inadequate access to warehouse and storage facilities limits the smallholder ability to aggregate and sell their crops.
Gender: Ensuring that women not only participate in P4P, but also benefit economically continues to present challenges. This is especially true when women are not the heads of households.
Government policy: Export bans and other unfavourable national legislations continue to limit smallholders’ possibilities to access markets. 
Quality: It is a challenge for P4P to provide an incentive for smallholders to invest in quality improvement of their crops, especially in countries lacking national quality standards

Access to equipment and storage Inadequate access to equipment and infrastructure limits agricultural productivity and can lead to post-harvest losses. P4P supported access to equipment as well as storage and provided training on post-harvest handling and warehouse management. Copyright: WFP/Lori Waselchuk

Through partners like FAO, P4P is supporting farmers’ organizations to utilize low-cost, environmentally-friendly techniques and technologies. Through its partners, P4P is teaching farmers to use sustainable practices, which include minimal tillage farming and organic compost, which are enabling smallholders to benefit from increased yields, improved crop quality and reduced production costs.

Farmers trained in sustainable agricultural practices In the Nueva Segovia region of Nicaragua, P4P is supporting farmers’ organizations to utilize low-cost, environmentally-friendly techniques and technologies. These sustainable practices, which include minimal tillage farming and the use of organic materials in soil enrichment, are enabling smallholders to benefit from increased yields, improved crop quality and reduced production costs. Copyright: WFP/Sabrina Quezada

As a pilot, P4P has emphasized an honest and transparent examination of what works and does not. P4P pilot countries are documenting the key lessons learned and this exercise will continue through 2014 when the final evaluation is taking place. To best capture the experiences, lessons and best practices, P4P has developed a Global Learning Agenda (GLA). Through a wide consultative process, P4P has organized learning around several thematic areas:

P4P has also influenced national government food procurement programmes and private sector staple crop buyers who have started to recognise the huge potential of investing in smallholders.In addition, the WFP Procurement Division is exploring new ways to combine WFP’s demand for staple foods with commercial and government demand to facilitate smallholder farmers’ access to quality markets, building on the foundations laid by P4P. 



Learning about how to best support smallholder and family farmers and sharing this information widely constitutes one of the three pillars of P4P. The pilot has gathered significant knowledge and research during the pilot period. Lessons about how to respond to small family farmers’ needs, potential and constraints, as well as how to provide adequate technical support are already being made available to the public, and shared with national governments as well as other public and private-sector actors. While some key documents have been published already, the majority of lessons learned documents will be published towards the end of 2014.
On example: http://www.wfp.org/content/p4p%E2%80%99s-women%E2%80%99s-empowerment-pathways-roadblocks-and-successes  
Learning will be posted on the website as it becomes available: https://www.wfp.org/purchase-progress