While there are food assistance programs in most countries they often involve importing food from distant capitals or other countries, which in the long term undermines the local food system by lowering prices and demand. The World Food Program has been involved in these traditional food aid models since its inception, however over the last decade the WFP has begun to try out different approaches that focus on strengthening local capacity and resilience in order to achieve long term improvements in childhood nutrition. Ecuador has been a testing ground for some of these models. A previous project phase researched the impacts of direct local provision on the nutrition of low income consumers. This study will look deeper into outcomes for small-scale farmers in terms of income, crop diversity, agroecology, empowerment and sustainability. The project benefits the two participating provinces as well as contributing to the larger debate on food assistance models, which could potentially influence governmental policy in many places where the CCRP works, among other.
Supporting and strengthening vibrant local food systems is an important strategic funding area in the Andes. We currently have two market and two nutrition projects that contribute to this thematic learning area, in addition to the WFP project that is ending. The WFP projects (past and proposed) bridge these two objectives of improved diets through agriculture diversification and improved markets through close circuits for nutritional food, thus contributing to and benefitting from the contributions of the larger community of practice . Moreover, the WFP’s alliances with various local, provincial and national governments and ministries provide an opportunity to test hypotheses at a larger scale and to better understand how to influence policy and, in turn, the impacts of policies on small-scale farmers.
Outputs and Outcomes:
The WFP has been influenced by the work of EkoRural on short circuit markets and hopes to develop mixed points of sales, where families and other consumers who receive food aid through vouchers can shop for healthy food. The idea is that by diversifying and even subsidizing this type of farmers’ market, it will be more sustainable in the long run. The results from this study have high potential to influence policy debates on food systems and nutrition particularly near urban areas. Furthermore, it is expected that the project will contribute to the discussion on research methods aimed at better understanding how market arrangements can benefit farmers and consumers.