World Food Programme (WFP)’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative in Ghana which was a five-year (2010-2015) pilot programme has come to an end.
The five million dollar Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funded programme, was implemented in two regions, Ashanti and Northern, with the aim of ensuring that smallholder/low income farmers become competitive in the agricultural markets that offer fair prices so that farmers can increase their productivity and incomes.
Purchase for Progress was geared toward poverty alleviation by connecting the farmers to markets and provided them with the opportunity to sell their surpluses at fair prices to off- takers such as the WFP, government of Ghana and the private sector.
At an end of project workshop, here, under the theme “A Retrospective of the Implementation of the Five Year Purchase for Progress Initiative in Ghana and the Way Forward”, the participants, mainly beneficiary farmers, appealed to the WFP to do all they could to extend the programme to continue to help them increase their yields and incomes.
But the P4P Coordinator, Nanga Kaye, in a presentation did not agree with the proposal saying it would not make them look matured, and that there was “the need to learn what did not work, and work on it to move forward”.
He pointed out that farming is a business and farmers needed to invest big time in it to be able to purchase equipment among others.
According to Mr. Kaye, WFP during the project life cycle purchased over 5,000 metric tons (100,000 barrels) of quality white maize from P4P farmer based organisations from 2010-2016, at a value of two million dollars.
Mr. Kaye indicated that there was a percentage change in yields from 2.2 metric tonnes per hectare in 2011 to 2.8 metric tonnes per hectare in 2013 for maize and from 1.5 metric tonnes per hectare to 2.5 metric tonnes per hectare for rice between the same periods.
Linkages, he said, were established with home grown school feeding programme where a P4P farmer organisation in the Northern Region sold 13 metric tonne of mixed food commodities including rice, beans and maize to 15 school caterers over two terms to feed approximately 4,000 pupils.
The coordinator asked the farmers to consider the high prices of some local commodities such as rice which was hindering efforts to pursue local initiatives.
Contributing, the Deputy Country Director of WFP, Magdalena Owusu Moshi, said the flagship success of the P4P initiative was the impact of the weighing scales and the eventual adoption and standardisation of the size four bag in the Ejura Sekyedumasi area.
She explained the elimination of the traditional bush weight system in which farmers were compelled to heap large bags to between 130 kilogrammes and 170 kilogrammes, only to be paid the value of a 100 kilogrammes bag of maize, which deprived them of all that extra kilogrammes per bag, stressing “WFP’s provision of weighing scales marked the beginning of a new phase in the farmers’ lives”.
Ms. Moshi was hopeful that the efforts that had been made to move smallholder farmers to formalise trading and the consideration of farming as a business would yield profit in the distant future and trusted that government and other agencies would build upon the work the P4P initiative had achieved.
Most of the farmers who interacted with The Ghanaian Times underlined the fact that they had gained increased revenue as compared to their previous sales using bush weight.
From Kingsley E. Hope, Kumasi