The World Food Programme (WFP) on Thursday revealed that it has purchased 1,000 metric tonnes of maize, worth $360,000, from smallholder Ghanaian farmers.
Most of the farmers were trained by the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) through funding provided by the US Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
A statement issued by the WFP in Accra said the purchase which was enough to feed 70,000 people for a month was the first local procurement in Ghana under WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative.
Under P4P, WFP works with a wide range of partners that provide smallholder farmers with the technical expertise necessary to increase their yields, improve the quality of their crops and enable them sell their produce at fair prices.
“MCC is proud to partner with WFP as we work together to create a firm foundation for growing African economies”, said MCC Chief Executive Officer Daniel W. Yohannes.
“MCC investments in Ghana’s agriculture and infrastructure sectors coupled with WFP’s P4P initiative is helping to develop the country’s sustainable agriculture supply chain”, he added.
“While we have been increasing local food purchases from within Ghana since 2008, we have mostly bought from medium-sized farmers or food traders,” said Ismail Omer, the WFP Representative in Ghana.
“Working together with MCC, we are in an even better position to buy directly from smallholder farmers who are receiving technical support and helping to transform local economies.”
The majority of the smallholder farmers have been trained by MiDA as part of a $547 million compact between MCC and the Government of Ghana.
MiDA is the local Ghanaian accountable entity that is implementing the MCC compact. MCC and MiDA are equipping poor farmers with the tools they need to produce more, ensuring their own food security, and empowering them to contribute to the food security of their communities.
In addition to farmer training, MCC will fund the construction of Agribusiness Centres (ABCs), which are post-harvest facilities where farmers can sell or store their crops.
“These privately-operated ABCs are critical to the development of Ghana’s grain sector and will provide a reliable source of supply for WFP’s purchase programmes. The centres will reduce post-harvest loss, improve farmers’ income and, ultimately, strengthen Ghana’s food security,” said Katerina Ntep, MCC Resident Country Director for Ghana.
WFP purchased the maize in Ghana from smallholder farmers grouped under two organizations, Sekyere Odiasempa Co-operative Farming and Marketing Society and AMSIG Resources.
Sekyere Odiasempa Co-operative is a farmer-based organisation with some 200 members, while AMSIG Resources is a MCC/MIDA technical training service provider.
The maize is being distributed to participants in WFP’s Food for Work and Food for Training activities in Northern Ghana, which targets populations that have been severely affected by recurrent floods and droughts as well as the global economic crisis of recent years.
WFP has previously purchased food from other MCC/MiDA-Trained farmers under its regular local procurement programme.
Between 2007 and 2009 WFP bought over 6,000 metric tonnes of rice, beans and maize from these farmers to support its school meals programme and its relief operations for flood-affected people.
In addition, WFP has significantly increased its purchase of local food for other operations in West Africa. In 2010, it purchased 6,400 metric tonnes of locally produced maize worth $ 2.2 million for use in WFP’S food emergency operations in Niger.
Following on the successes already realised in Ghana, WFP and MCC leaders met in Washington in mid-December to renew and extend their existing partnership by signing an agreement aimed at strengthening WFP/MCC global coordination to improve economic growth, poverty alleviation, and food security in developing countries.