Last year, the world's largest humanitarian organization bought a record 80 percent of its food aid from poorer nations. In what it termed a "win-win" situation, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) purchased a total of 2.1 million tons of food, valued at more than US$760 million, from 69 developing countries worldwide.
"Local purchases create win-win solutions to hunger," said WFP executive director Josette Sheeran. "In an era of soaring food prices--which hit hardest those already hungry--such solutions are more critical than ever. We are now not only feeding hungry people, but helping to devolop sustainable solutions to hunger."
The largest supplier was Uganda, where WFP purchased 210,000 tons of food, enough to feed 3.4 million people for one year. Buying from local producers, such as western Uganda's Manyaka Cooperative, helps provide more income for small-scale farmers, while saving WFP money. Other top countries where the agency bought locally in 2007 were Ecuador, Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia, India, Sudan, Kenya, Zambia, and Malawi.
WFP is choosing to procure more food locally at a time when soaring commodity and fuel prices are having a major impact on the organization's ability to deliver food. Buying in local markets, which are located closer to places of distribution and where prices are sometimes lower, enables the agency to offset some of the price hikes and keep food affordable to the most vulnerable. Worldwide, an estimated 854 million people experience hunger on a regular basis, according to WFP.
WFP's policy is to buy food locally when and where there is an abundance and to avoid local markets at times...