Developing capacity for strengthening food security and nutrition

The Logistic Center establishes links between schools and small agricultural producers in Kyrgyzstan

21 April 2020 | Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan – Food security issues are a priority in the policies of each state. Kyrgyzstan is no exception. Along with the Law on Food Security, the country is successfully implementing the second National Food Security and Nutrition Program for 2019-2023. In support of public policy, since 2017, with financial support from the Russian Federation, a large-scale FAO project Developing Capacity for Strengthening Food Security and Nutrition in selected countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia is being implemented in the Kyrgyz Republic, which has actively begun to bear fruit.

Establishing a sustainable value chain model is one of the priorities of the National Food Security and Nutrition Program. It is namely them serve as vectors for achieving food security for socially vulnerable people, especially children, reducing rural poverty and increasing agricultural production nationwide, including through outreach to family farms and small-scale farmers.

In order to tie together the links of the supply chain for ensuring a stable sales market on the one hand and access to uninterrupted, high quality and safe food on the other, it was piloted the centralized system of purchase, storage and supply of agricultural products from local small-scale farmers to schools in the Kemin district of Chui province. It became possible through the new Logistic Center that has been established with the technical support of FAO in 2018.

The Logistic Center is the first unprecedented model in Kyrgyzstan to ensure sustainable supply of crop products produced by local producers to schools, thereby contributing to improved nutrition of school meals and increased income for small farmers, as well as contributing to the economic development of the district. The Logistic Center, with a total warehouse area of 270 square meters, is furnished with the necessary equipment for cool storage and laboratory quality control of agricultural products. It also has a truck equipped with a thermobox, which allows delivering agricultural products to schools and even to the most remote parts of the region, while maintaining their quality. Such facilities and infrastructure elements are necessary for the sustainable provision of agricultural products by schools all around the year as well as the access for local agricultural producers to domestic markets in Kyrgyzstan.

“In Kemin, many producers, especially small farmers, are faced with the problem of access to the market for sales and storage of agricultural products. Our center allows solving this issue and providing farmers with the conditions for storing their products throughout the year and the access to domestic markets. Farmers gradually began to contact us for storing their products. Last year alone, we ensured high-quality storage of about 30 tons of potatoes and apples. Of course, these are small volumes, but our goal is to increase purchases and store up to 250 tons of fruits and vegetables. We charge a fee to farmers for our storage services, depending on the terms of the contract. In addition to providing storage services, we also purchase products ourselves and deliver to both local schools and the domestic market. Thus, we could ensure economic stability of our Logistic Center and contribute to the successful realization of the pilot for improvement of school food and nutrition,” said Mr. K. Kopzhasharov, private entrepreneur and manager of the Logistic Center.

“Previously, we did not know where to store the products we harvested in the fields. The situation became particularly acute in the winter,” said Mr. J. Beishenaliev, a local farmer, “however, it has become much easier for us, thanks to the established Logistic Center. Even at the first experience of cooperation with the Center, I significantly reduced the loss of my products to five per cent, due to the right storage conditions.”

The Logistic Center takes on all the operation for procurement, certification, storage, sale and delivery of agricultural products, which means that small agricultural producers avoid many risks and the operations related costs. Nowadays, even the most vulnerable family farms have a transparent and guaranteed channel to enter the market, which allows increasing the number of suppliers and improving the quality of their products through competition among producers.

The Logistic Center also participates in state tenders for the supply of agricultural products to schools and other social institutions by offering certified high-quality products at fixed prices all year round. However, the competitive cost of production does not diminish the income of small agricultural producers cooperating with this Center, because they sell their goods at guaranteed wholesale prices without additional marketing costs. Without doubts, the Logistic Center has several advantages over individual small-scale farmers when participating in tenders for agricultural products supply, where it is more likely to be awarded a contract and be able to ensure a smooth procurement process from producers through a high-quality storage to consumers.

“With the help of the Logistic Center, we hope significantly reduce the school’s expenses for the purchase and long-term storage of food. In addition, the cooperation with the Center is also beneficial because a school will be able to purchase locally produced products, confirmed by quality certificates, from one supplier and at a fixed price, including delivery cost. A school will be able to purchase food every ten days or every two weeks in accordance with the approved menu. Thanks to this, we will be relieved of the burden associated with the rather laborious process of organizing the purchase of raw foodstuff, and the children will receive high-quality meals,” said Mr. P. Popov, director of school No. 2 in Orlovka town of Kemin district.

In addition to the above advantages and benefits of players in the entire supply chain, the Logistic Center in the Kemin district created a successful precedent of public-private partnership for achieving food security and quality nutrition in line with the law on the “Public-Private Partnership of the Kyrgyz Republic”. The Center establishes linkages among small agricultural producers, private entrepreneurs, public services and ultimate beneficiaries – schoolchildren. Thus, the development of similar logistic centers is becoming one of the priorities of the Government of Kyrgyzstan, as evidenced by the adoption of the Program for establishing and developing trade and logistic centers for agricultural products in the Kyrgyz Republic for 2019–2023. Undoubtedly, FAO continues a technical support to the Government in the Program realization, and the Logistic Center in Kemin will serve as the flagship of success.