The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on Wednesday said it had purchased 1,433 metric tons of Ghanaian rice worth 780,000 dollars as part of its growing trend of purchasing locally to benefit farmers.
A statement from WFP and copied to the GNA in Accra, said the rice would be distributed through the School Feeding Programme in the three Northern Regions where WFP, the Programme and the Ghana Education Service (GES) work together to provide meals to over 100,000 children in 304 schools.
"The new strategic plan encourages local purchases from countries where we work.
When prices are competitive and funding is available, we buy food within the country for distribution to the vulnerable food-insecure people whom we assist, so it becomes a win-win situation for both farmers and our beneficiaries," Mr Ismail Omer, WFP Representative in Ghana said.
It said out of the 1,433 metric tons of rice purchased, the Northern Region office of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) supplied 55 metric tons, AMSIG Resources supplied 878 metric tons and EDEM Farms won the third bid to supply 500 metric tons.
The statement said AMSIG Resources was a Millennium Development Authority technical training service provider which works with farmers in Savelugu-Nanton, Tolon-Kumbungu, Tamale, West Mamprusi and Karaga.
"The rice which AMSIG supplied to WFP was produced by groups of women farmers who lived in these communities in the Northern Region," it said.
The statement said WFP food purchases in Ghana had increased significantly in recent years and that in 2008-2009, it purchased food worth 10 million dollars consisting mainly of maize, maize meal, corn-soy blend, iodised salt and vegetable salt, with rice being recently added to the food items specified for distribution.
It said building on its successful local procurement programme, WFP would soon roll out a new initiative called Purchase for Progress (P4P), a five-year pilot programme which would promote the development of agricultural markets in such a way that smallholder farmers would produce food surpluses and sell them at fair prices to various markets including WFP operations.
The statement said an assessment mission was currently evaluating smallholder farmers' challenges and building partnerships for its implementation.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide and aims to feed 90 million people in 73 countries in 2010.