Source, UN.org – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today began a scheme to boost about 70,000 smallholder farmers in Ethiopia by buying the food they produce to use in the agency’s operations in the Horn of Africa country.
Through the Purchase for Progress initiative, which is financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WFP plans to buy an estimated 126,000 tons of food from local farmers over the next five years.
Mohamed Diab, the country director for WFP in Ethiopia, said the initiative should benefit both the agency and the farmers, whose incomes and know-how will rise as they become more familiar with the agricultural marketplace.
“The farmers have a secure market and income, encouraging them to grow more food, and WFP can buy food at competitive prices for people in need in Ethiopia,” Mr. Diab said.
Under an initial phase of the project, which kicked off in February, WFP has bought more than 5,500 tons of maize and beans from cooperative unions based in three regions of the country.
WFP already buys vast quantities of food in Ethiopia to help people in need. The agency bought at least 592,000 tons of cereals, beans, salt and fortified food valued at $183 million between 2004 and 2009 – or enough to feed about 4 million people a month.
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