KT Press reported on Monday of a plan by the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) to buy 508 metric tons of beans to be sent to Burundi. The project would also export maize. WFP officials tell us the export program is bigger than publicly known. WFP Rwanda spokesperson John Paul SESONGA told us more and how much it has been spending. Below are excepts of the interview:
We have information that you will be sending food bought from Rwanda to Burundi today can you confirm the food aid is leaving today? When do you intend to complete the operation?
Yes, WFP will be sending 508 metric tons of beans bought locally from Rwanda to WFP operation in Burundi. This transport is part of the regular workings of our Global Commodity Management Facility (GCMF) to ensure that food stocks are always ready for distribution in any given country in the region to save lives of the most food insecure people.
Local purchases through Global Commodity Management Facility (GCMF) will always be the preferred approach for WFP depending on the available resources to be able to adequately and immediately respond to food needs of the most vulnerable food insecure people.
The Global Commodity Management Facility was created and has accounted for a growing share of the total amount of food distributed by WFP. This is how the facility works: based on predictions of demand in a pool of countries, WFP releases funding to buy food in advance of projects’ requests. This means that goods will likely be already at the delivery port, or at an advanced stage in the supply chain process, when country offices need them, thus considerably reducing the lead times.
What foods are you sending? Maize, beans or what else?
GCMF purchases mainly Maize and Beans for its operations from Rwanda. In addition, Rwanda based Africa Improved Foods has also started supplying highly nutritious fortified foods from Rwanda for GCMF to dispatch to WFP operations elsewhere in the region.
Where exactly in Burundi are you sending the food and to take care of which people?
Food is being sent to WFP operations in the country, the distribution will be done based on the local operational needs.
Is it the first time you are buying food from Rwanda destined for Burundi?
No, this was done before. Again, referring to the above-mentioned GCMF, this is part of an ongoing internal purchasing process benefitting all countries in the region.
How often do you buy food from Rwanda for sending to other countries, and which ones
Local purchases are always possible whenever sufficient food is available in the local market.
Rwanda is facing food crisis, mainly eastern Rwanda. Are we able to sell elsewhere? Why not take care of local needs?
WFP focuses mainly on feeding refugees and other vulnerable people. WFP also contributes to promoting post-harvest food management skills of small-holder farmers and linking them to financial institutions, potential buyers and markets. When purchasing locally for the GCMF, WFP makes sure it doesn’t disrupt the local markets and only buys when there is excess availability. Buying locally, notably from small holders famers, helps also these farmers’ food security situation which is many cases is precarious.
Finally, donor contribution to WFP are more than often earmarked for operations in specific countries. Currently, for example, funds earmarked for WFP South Sudan projects are being used to purchase Rwandan food commodities then exported to South Sudan.
Did you buy from Govt or ordinary Rwandan farmers?
WFP purchases from local traders and farmers.
Is there any other information you would like to share with us
WFP is the food aid arm of the United Nations system. Each month WFP spends $2.3 million to meet refugee food needs in Rwanda, and 80% of the food commodities are purchased locally. WFP uses food aid to meet refugee and other emergency food needs, and thereby also supports economic and social development in the country through these local purchases. In past five years 2013-2016, GCMF in Rwanda expanded the local procurement capacity reaching a total 87,066 mt valued at $ 41,605,993, of which 35 percent has been dispatched to neighboring countries such as South Soudan, Uganda, Congo and Burundi. The shipment of 508 mt of beans to Burundi fits within this efficient procurement process, internal to WFP.