Thursday, May 12, 2016

Impact of procurement governance for Home Grown school feeding

By Bob Aston
The five-year Procurement Governance for Home Grown School Feeding (PG-HGSF) project by the Netherlands Development Organization-SNV is finally coming to its conclusion. The organization organized for a stakeholders Workshop on May 10, 2016 at IBIS Hotel in Nanyuki, Laikipia County to brief them on the impacts, challenges, and lessons learned during the implementation of the project.
Aside from SNV, other stakeholders included representatives from Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative Society, Mount Kenya Produce and Marketing Organization (PMO),  Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), Kilimo Biashara Promoters, and head teachers.
Mount Kenya PMO receiving a moisture meter from Mr. Makongo during the workshop
PG-HGSF was a 5-year program that SNV was implementing in Kenya, Ghana, and Mali. SNV USA launched the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) funded project in 2011.
Mr. David Makongo, SNV Advisor-BMGF Project, and PG-HGSF Kenya said that the organization aimed to develop a more inclusive and responsible relationship between smallholder farmers through farmer based organizations and school feeding buyers in Kenya.
“SNV and its partners worked hard to remove barriers to smallholder farmer’s inclusion in the school meal programme. Initially most farmer groups were not benefiting but this is now changing,” said Mr. Makongo.
He noted that 815,000 pupils drawn from 2,114 primary schools benefit through Home Grown School Meals (HGSM) programme annually. This has incentivized pupil enrollment and retention across the County.
The Kenyan government introduced the Home Grown School Meals (HGSM) programme in 2009. The programme has the dual objectives of improving children’s participation in education while simultaneously supporting local agricultural production by procuring foodstuff from local smallholder farmers.
Notable achievements of the PG-HGSF project included 6,513 farmers, 3935 male and 2,578 female drawn from 11 farmer based organizations managed to sell directly to schools. The project also helped 3,050 farmers to sell their cereals through structured demand (SD) markets. The markets by public or non-profit entities have a predictable and reliable demand for food products.
The project enabled SNV to pilot interventions in procurement, supply chain, and social accountability processes that helped remove obstacles to smallholder farmer’s access to school feeding markets. Between 2013 and 2015, the project oversaw the completion of 227 social audits.
“Social accountability helped in creating a more transparent and participatory assessment of the health and performance of school feeding programmes,” said Mr. Makongo.
In Laikipia County, the program addressed the challenge of lack of data for effective planning and decision making in education and homegrown school feeding programme through an online data management system.
Mr. Makongo said that SNV developed and expanded Grain Business Hubs as farmers lacked capacities in finance, storage, and management skills. The hubs strengthened the linkages and capacities of farmer based organizations. This enabled Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative Society and Mount Kenya Produce and Marketing Organization to sell grains more efficiently and profitably.
“HGSM programme is a viable market for farmers as the quantities required are manageable. Most schools have also indicated that quality of cereals from farmers is usually higher than from other traders,” said Mr. Makongo.
The workshop also enabled the two farmer based organizations to share experiences, challenges and deliberate on how best they can take advantage of the homegrown school meal market.
The two groups learned that despite the conclusion of the SNV project, opportunities for smallholder farmers still exist and the groups can still take a stronger role in their local school meals programmes by applying for tenders from local primary schools.
The two farmer groups have managed to supply cereals to five schools namely Chumvi, Sanga, Lukusoro, Olkinyei, and Kangumo Primary school. Representatives from the two farmer groups agreed to come up with strategies that would ensure that their farmers supply cereals to more schools as currently 106 schools in Laikipia County receive HGSM money.
The two farmer groups narrated how the SNV support has helped to empower their members and that the Grain Business Hubs have enabled them to sell grains more efficiently and profitably.

They promised SNV that the conclusion of the Procurement Governance for Home Grown School Feeding Project has re-energized and provided them with an added motivation to ensure that they grow their grain business hubs.
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