The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), through the Ministry of Agriculture, on Friday turned over four semi-industrial rice milling machines to farmers’ cooperatives in Liberia at a ceremony in Gbedin, Nimba County.
The donation was made within the framework of Purchase for Progress (P4P), a WFP initiative to purchase food locally for use in WFP feeding programmes.
“Through the donation of these rice mills, we hope to improve the efficiency of farmers’ groups in rice processing and increase their know-how in the use and management of appropriate technologies”, said WFP Representative Louis Imbleau.
“This should boost their productive and technical capacities and fast-track their move toward self-sustainability.”
P4P enables smallholder and low-income farmers to supply food to WFP operations. It is a win-win opportunity that allows WFP to help those who have little or no food, while supporting local farmers who have little or no access to markets to sell their crops.
The P4P pilot in Liberia is helping smallholder farmers to improve their farming practices, ensure a market for their crops, and earn more money as a result. It facilitates the processing and packaging of their rice produce to meet minimum market standards.
To date, WFP has contracted for more than 650 metric tons of locally produced rice from five cooperatives enough to feed around 9,000 families for a month.
Contracts are being finalized for an additional 350 metric tons of rice with another five farmers’ associations, including two rural women’s groups. Some of the rice has been received in WFP warehouses and is being distributed through the school feeding programme.
Purchase for Progress is a partnership with the Government of Liberia, involving the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Gender and Development, FAO, WFP and UNDP under the framework of the Joint Programme on Food Security Nutrition.
WFP would like to thank the Howard G. Buffett Foundation for providing the seed fund of US$1.5 million to implement the capacity-building aspect of the Liberia pilot.
WFP is also grateful to the United States government and its people for recently providing, through USAID Liberia, US$500,000 to be used strictly for the purchase of local rice. This is out of a total contribution of US$3.5 million made recently to the Liberia school meals programme.
WFP also wishes to thank the governments of Germany, Japan, Switzerland and Ireland for their donations and support of the P4P pilot. WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. In 2010 WFP aims to feed more than 90 million people in 73 countries.