Through its school feeding programme in Burkina Faso, WFP provides daily meals for 132,000 students. In May 2015, a new item was added to the menu: yogurt, a nutritious, locally-produced product which is well-liked among students. The yogurt is part of a new project in Burkina Faso, which builds upon WFP’s expertise in school feeding and supporting market access for small-scale staple crop farmers under Purchase for Progress (P4P).
Since 2004, WFP and the Government of Burkina Faso have been working together to support nutrition and education—especially for girls—in the Sahel region. Today, more than 2,200 students are benefitting from nutritious, locally-produced yogurt in these school meals. Under this project, milk produced by small-scale livestock breeders is processed into yogurt by local women’s associations. WFP then purchases the yogurt for distribution in schools. The P4P experience purchasing from small-scale staple crop producers and developing capacities through strong partnerships has been key. In 2015, P4P applied lessons learned from seven years of experience to support three local dairy processing units run by women. Thanks to these efforts, two additional dairy processing units will be added in 2016, the number of schools reached should double.
Increasing attendance, improving livelihoods
Since distributions began, teachers have observed that students are attending class more regularly, an important accomplishment in a region where school enrolment rates are low and families struggle to feed themselves. The project is also supporting the development of the dairy sector. In the Sahel region, 40 percent of the population relies on livestock for their livelihoods. Thanks to the increased demand for milk used to produce yogurt, local cattle breeders have a stable market for their production. Investments in quality control also have the potential to improve the overall quality of yogurt sold on local markets. In addition, the initiative represents an important opportunity for women – the main actors involved in small-scale food processing in Burkina Faso – to scale up their production efforts and increase their income, adding value to milk and marketing yogurt to WFP.
Investing in quality control and increased production
Buy-in from local suppliers and tailored capacity development has been key to P4P’s achievements during the pilot and beyond. Because local dairy processors often have limited capacities and may struggle to meet WFP’s quality requirements, support for production and quality assurance is critical. Joint capacity development and investment plans were developed with each processor, who were then provided with quality control equipment and training. WFP continues to work in partnership with the national laboratory to conduct regular quality analyses.
While the processors are experienced in yogurt production, many were new to the world of balance sheets, loans and market research, and have struggled to access credit to invest in improving production. To address these challenges, each processor received support to develop sales and investment plans, and to access credit with support from WFP and partners, including the regional bureau of the Ministry of Animal Resources and Ecobank. With credit and an assured market for their production, producers have invested in additional equipment to increase production and improve quality. Production capacity has tripled in just six months, thanks to co-investments by WFP and the processors, and all three processors are consistently meeting quality standards. During the first five months of distribution, processor Kossam N’ai Bodedji marketed 21 mt of yogurt to WFP, translating to US$52,500 in sales. This increased production capacity also provides opportunities for local cattle breeders – increasing demand for the milk they produce.
WFP plans to scale up further in 2016, expanding support to additional processors and adding more schools to reach a total of 10,000 students. As during the P4P pilot, measuring results, identifying lessons learned and sharing best practices will be key to measuring results and informing project design. Lessons learned will also facilitate a progressive handover of the programme to local communities.
By Eliza Warren-Shriner, P4P Consultant, Burkina Faso