Subscribe

How eating local provides a big boost in emergency situations

A study from Cornell researchers shows that local food aid is faster and more affordable for the regions of the world that need it the most.

  • close
    Subsistence farmers work their field of maize after late rains near the capital Lilongwe, Malawi (February 1, 2016). Floods and an El Nino-triggered drought have hit the staple maize crop, exposing the fragility of Malawi's progress.
    Mike Hutchings/Reuters/File
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

Local procurement, using local or regional goods for the provision of food aid during an emergency, is faster, more affordable, and overwhelmingly preferred by recipients. But local procurement can also improve local standards for food quality, providing an important impact on long-term development for countries experiencing hunger.

Christopher Barrett, an economist at Cornell, led a study that found several benefits of local procurement— some expected and others less so. Barrett and his collaborators looked at various pilot projects in Niger, Zambia, Bangladesh, and Guatemala to test the feasibility of buying food aid locally. Their inclusion of countries where food aid arrived by foreign and local procurement provided for a side-by-side comparison. They found that when food aid was locally procured, it arrived more quickly and affordably, as expected. What they did not expect, Barrett explained in an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), was that "By almost any criterion, households much prefer the locally sourced food.”

In 2014, President Obama signed into law reforms that would allow for an increase in local procurement in countries receiving assistance from the U.S. and “a pilot program created in the 2008 farm bill to study the effectiveness of purchasing food aid locally and regionally [would] be continued as a full program with modestly increased funding to US$80 million per year.” According to Oxfam America, “this provision could help reach more than 1.8 million additional people with life-saving aid at no additional cost to taxpayers.” 

Recommended: How to create a better food system (+video)

Furthermore, Oxfam explained that food aid reform doesn’t just make economic sense, it also adds to market demand in the countries receiving assistance as well. Over the past five years, the World Food Programme’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative, which supports smallholder farmers “to market their crops collectively through farmers’ organizations to access formal markets and earn better prices,” has found that local procurement can be carried out with minimal market distortion and an overall improved quality of goods. Local procurement isn’t a short-term fix- it also leaves a lasting impression on the community that has the potential to raise local standards.

This article first appeared at FoodTank.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK