In a groundbreaking agreement, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will buy enough wheat directly from farmers in Afghanistan to help feed more than 500,000 people in the country for three months, marking the largest local purchase ever by the agency.
WFP will purchase some 13,000 metric tons of wheat through the pilot Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative, through which it buys surplus from local farmers for its aid operations, thereby helping to boost agricultural production and incomes in developing nations.
“We are relieved and excited that these landmark purchases will let us continue providing food assistance to Afghanistan’s neediest families, and do so with food produced here in the country,” said Louis Imbleau, WFP’s Representative in Afghanistan.
Buying the wheat locally enables WFP to distribute it to those who need it more quickly, reducing the impact of the shortage that threatened winter assistance to a million Afghans following flooding in neighbouring Pakistan earlier this year.
The agency noted in a news release that the food pipeline for its Afghanistan operation was disrupted when supplies of wheat were lost to floodwaters while in transit through Pakistan to landlocked Afghanistan.
WFP plans to feed roughly 7.3 million needy Afghans in 2011. But it still faces significant funding shortages for this effort, and urges donors to provide the $132 million needed to continue life-saving assistance through the end of July.