In the Republic of Congo (RoC), food insecurity affects 33.3 per cent of households, with high prevalence in rural areas, while 38 per cent of the population is undernourished, and 19.6 per cent of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition. Over the years, the country has implemented several initiatives to eradicate poverty and hunger, notably through the implementation of the Country Strategic Plan (the latest covering the 2019-2024 period) and development strategies and policies at the sectoral level.
The main gaps in institutional capacity, at policy and technical levels, to support smallholder farmers include difficulty in accessing credit and natural resources, insufficient technical assistance services, poor rural infrastructure, weak agricultural modernisation, inadequate food storage and processing practices/equipment, and limited capacity of farmer associations/cooperatives.
By leveraging WFP’s South-South and Triangular Cooperation modalities, the RoC’s Ministries will be able to enhance family farmers’ access to local markets by tapping into the wealth of expertise and innovations available in Brazil.
Towards a Solution
To address these challenges, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Centre of Excellence against Hunger in Brazil (Brazil CoE), the Government of the RoC and the Government of Brazil have launched a new South-South and Triangular Cooperation project with the aim of contributing to the food security and nutritional status of smallholder farmers, particularly women, and school children in RoC. The project, called “Enhancing Family Farmers’ Access to Local Markets in the Republic of Congo through South-South Cooperation” funded by the India, Brazil and South Africa Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation (IBSA Fund), will enable the Government of RoC to tap into the Brazil’s success in making family farming more sustainable and profitable while improving vulnerable farmers’ livelihoods.
Brazil was chosen as the right partner for RoC for this project as the Brazilian National School Feeding Programme (PNAE) is among the largest school feeding programmes in the world in both geographic coverage and number of beneficiaries, and is regarded as a role model for including family farming products on school menus.
Institutional purchase from family farmers is a key strategy from the Government of Brazil for strengthening family farming. Programmes such as the Food Procurement Programme (PAA), the National Programme for Strengthening Smallholder Agriculture (PRONAF), and institutions such as the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) and the state technical assistance and rural extension companies (EMATER) allowed farmers to get greater access to research and technology to increase production, generating greater income and better conditions for the sector. This was made possible through the establishment of institutional procurement mechanisms, facilitating access to credit and creating new possibilities for insurance to guarantee the harvest of small properties, as well as by reinforcing technical assistance provided directly to farmers. Brazil’s comprehensive set of programmes to support smallholder farmers, including through public purchase for the School Feeding Programme, provides several policy innovations as well as technical solutions that will be shared with RoC and tailored to the local context to promote food security and improved nutrition in the country.
In RoC, the project will focus on institutional capacity strengthening for policy makers at central and local levels, through a “training of trainers” approach and on-the-job coaching, with the participation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MAEP) and of the Ministry of Pre-school, Primary, Secondary Education and Literacy (MEPSA) in RoC. The project will also focus on capacity strengthening at the grassroot level for family farmer associations/cooperatives in targeted districts in the Bouenza, Plateaux and Pool, located in the south-eastern region of the country, through delivery of equipment, tailored training, and in-field demonstrations by MAEP staff trained by their peers from Brazil.
This project will also help enhance the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Pre-school, Primary, Secondary Education and Literacy at central and local levels to implement its National School Feeding Policy with a view to transition from a WFP-led to a fully Government-led national programme with a strong component of locally purchased food. The School Feeding Programme in RoC currently targets 388 schools supported with McGovern-Dole funds and 144 schools assisted in cash-based transfer modalities (Cantines Ya Buala and Mbala Pinda), providing nutritious meals to an estimated 173,000 students in 10 out of the country’s 12 departments.
The project which will run for two years includes market assessments, workshops, field visits, production of documents and manuals, distribution of farming equipment among other activities. A pilot approach will be followed to carry out capacity strengthening activities at the local level for participant ministries’ staff and farmer associations/cooperatives. Findings from the pilot evaluation will inform the adoption and scaling up of results across the country.
This initiative directly contributes to achieving SDG 2 – End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture and SDG 17 – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. SDGs 5 "Gender equality", 8 "Decent work and economic growth" and 12 "Sustainable consumption and production" are also being partially addressed through the project.
 Process by which institutional entities, such as pension funds, mutual fund companies, banks, insurance companies, or any other large institutions, purchase work, goods or services from companies.
 Process by which public authorities, such as government departments or local authorities, purchase work, goods or services from companies.