Improving school meals and farmer’s livelihoods through South-South Cooperation: a wise way to connect family farmers to local markets

African countries yield positive results thanks to the Purchase from Africans for Africa initiative, that adapts the Brazilian successful school feeding model and public food procurement from family farmers

26/10/2016 - 

African countries yield positive results thanks to the Purchase from Africans for Africa initiative, that adapts the Brazilian successful school feeding model and public food procurement from family farmers

20 October 2016, Rome. Since 2014 Brazil no longer features on the World Hunger Map. Its powerful National School Feeding Programme, within the framework of the national Zero Hunger programme, has been key in eradicating hunger. Its valuable experience is now being shared with African countries through South-South Cooperation in order to adapt the approach to their local realities.

Brazil’s successful model, which goes beyond providing school meals for all students by connecting food procurement to local farmers, is being adapted through the Purchase from Africans for Africa Programme. It is a Brazilian cooperation initiative with Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger and Senegal. The programme is being implemented in the context of a technical partnership between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), and counting with the financial and technical collaboration of the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom (DFID) and the UNDP – International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.

Purchase from Africans for Africa

The PAA Africa Programme is inspired by the Brazilian experience, which since 2003 linked school feeding with local food production through the procurement from smallholder farmers.

“Since 2009, the law guarantees that at least 30% of the budget for School Feeding is allocated to buy food from local producers,” said José Fernando Uchoa Costa, Director, Educational Actions, National Fund for Education Development of Brazil, in a side event within the context of the World Committee on Food Security (CFS43) recommendations on Connecting Smallholders to Markets.

The improvement of the procurement modalities of the Brazilian national school feeding programme in 2009 was possible and built on the successful Brazilian PAA (Food Acquisition Programme), which was one of the national programmes under the Brazilian Zero Hunger lunched in 2003, linking local agriculture and social protection. The Brazilian PAA stands nationwide until nowadays across the country.

“Respecting tradition and eating habits of the country is foremost”, said Maria Laura da Rocha, Brazil Permanent Representation to FAO, WFP and IFAD, who also emphasized the importance of family farming at the core of this programme to expand implementation of institutional food procurement programmes from farmers for public school food initiatives

Achievement and Results

The Purchase from Africans for Africa Programme goes now through its second phase. The main objective of the remaining months of the second phase that will run until 2017 is to finalize two evaluations in Senegal and Malawi. Thus far, according to the final monitoring results, the programme has successfully implemented local food procurement for school feeding. It has also contributed to dietary diversification among pupils and communities. The programme has promoted national ownership and strengthened smallholder farmer capacity in local food procurement.

Senegal and Ethiopia have clearly seen the connection between school feeding and connecting smallholder farmers to institutional markets. Proof of their commitment, the government of Senegal has for instance included the PAA into its three-year National Investment Programme. “In Senegal, many family farmers have come from self-subsistence to commercialization thanks to the PAA Programme,” said Senegal’s government representative during the event.

However, challenges lie ahead for this innovative way of connecting smallholders to institutional markets and African governments are committed to lead the process ahead. In particular it is necessary to ensure a stable supply of food through local smallholder when production is based on dry-land farming. There is also need for an improved coordination between the agricultural and educational sectors.

Wise investment

Brazil’s National School Feeding Programme has now evolved from basic assistance to fighting hunger through specific guidelines for a good nutrition. “It provides 40 million meals every day in 160.000 schools across the country,” noted Uchoa Costa.

Since 2003 the school food with local procurement is part of the African Union Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). Now counting with the PAA Africa monitoring and evaluation results, African governments commitment and the technical dialogue, the South-South exchanges in the context of the FAO support for school food and nutrition will reach an important interface of South-South cooperation in Africa on school food and nutrition, were countries can learn from their own experiences within the continent, from Africa to Africa.

All round Cooperation

The Department for International Development of the United Kingdom (DFID) has contributed both financially and technically to the PAA programme, proving that every country, whether north or south, has something to offer. The participation of traditional donors or multilateral partners in the form of Triangular partners supporting South-South Cooperation can be crucial in achieving positive results, as demonstrated by African countries developing their own approach inspired in Brazil to secure the health and nutritional status of school children, while boosting the livelihoods of local farmers.