Inclusive procurement and transparency: Connecting smallholder farmers to school feeding
Inclusive procurement can be described as a deliberate way of purchasing goods or services by governments and private companies from less favoured or vulnerable supplier categories in order to advance social and economic development. In the PG-HGSF project, this mainly includes smallholder farmers, with a specific focus on women farmers.
In Mali, Kenya and Ghana, government-funded school feeding programmes have yet to fully develop their inclusive procurement approaches that could benefit smallholder farmers, although the intent of making these programmes “Home Grown” is to purchase from local producers. The PG-HGSF project is working to change this.
This document addresses one of the key learning questions that the project identified early in the implementation: what is the best way to deal with the inherent tension in public procurement processes when addressing transparency requirements and targeting specific suppliers? Is it possible for procurement to advance specific policy/development goals such as stimulating employment and income generation among vulnerable groups, without compromising basic principles of transparency and value for money?
While initially the assumption was that policy makers would have to be convinced to create this balance, most of the time, the procurement systems already possess the capacity to become more inclusive. This document highlights the ways in which existing processes can be used to make school feeding procurement more inclusive. Not only to make the process more open for farmers, but to increase and improve supplier competition which can result in more value for money when using public funds for school feeding purchases.
The document also provides recommendations on administrative adjustments to “level the playing field”, focused procurement and procurement planning that can be used by procurement entities - all measures that help to increase the participation of otherwise excluded suppliers. In addition, it underlines the importance to strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers and producer organisations to be able to compete effectively in tenders.
In Kenya, Mali and Ghana, the PG-HGSF teams are working on pilots to address inclusive procurement and will be using the recommendations from this document to guide their practices. Check this space soon for more on procurement interventions from the PG-HGSF project.