Global perspective Human stories

Record food purchases from developing nations helps UN agency save more lives

Record food purchases from developing nations helps UN agency save more lives

Flood victims in Pakistan benefited from record food purchases by the WFP from developing nations in 2010
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) procured $1.25 billion in food commodities last year, including the purchase of more food than ever before from developing nations, enabling the agency to save money, delivery time and human lives while helping to boost agricultural production and incomes.

The food came from 96 nations, including Ethiopia, Viet Nam and Guatemala, and helped people affected by the epic flooding in Pakistan, the earthquake in Haiti, and the drought in the Sahel region of Africa, according to the agency, which released its report on 2010 purchasing earlier today in Geneva.

“More than 80 per cent of all food WFP bought last year came from developing countries,” Executive Director Josette Sheeran said in a statement.

“During a time of record food prices, this investment saves lives and protects livelihoods by harnessing the purchasing power of WFP, one of the largest food buyers in the world, to invest in the agricultural economies of developing nations and deliver food assistance directly to the hungry poor who are most affected by natural disasters, wars and displacement.”

The agency’s capacity to efficiently purchase has been enhanced by the growing quota of cash contributions and by new and innovative hunger tools, including advance purchase mechanisms that allow the use of cash to buy in advance and in bulk when prices are lower, Ms. Sheeran noted.

“This approach allows us to save money, save delivery time and – most importantly – save lives.”

Through a groundbreaking agreement signed in December 2010, 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.

The effort is part of the agency’s 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.