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Smart procurement for food security

Added 13 Dec 2012

Eurodad  has produced a new briefing on smart procurement and food security.

Procurement is an important share of economic activity in any country. In most developing countries, public procurement is either the main or second area of government expenditure, often with considerable finance from Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Smart procurement can make a major contribution to the eradication of hunger and poverty in several ways. Local and regional procurement can support the development of the domestic economy, such as in the agricultural sector. Smallholder farmers, mainly women, can benefit from new opportunities by creating new markets and raising incomes. Moreover, the use of country procurement systems increases ownership and domestic accountability in recipient countries. Open and efficient public procurement practices can contribute towards the sound management of public expenditure and poverty reduction through delivery of public services in health, education and infrastructure.

In the last decade, the international community has committed to ensuring aid effectiveness, by untying aid and using recipient countries’ procurement systems as the first option. Despite this, donors keep tying their aid and influencing developing countries’ government policies. Eurodad research shows that two thirds of contracts awarded by bilateral donors still go to firms from Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) countries.

Some initiatives have already arisen in support of local procurement, such as the World Food Programme’s Purchase for Progress. Brazil and India have also launched their own national food purchase programmes and are sharing the expertise and lessons learned.

Food advocates and campaigners have an opportunity to put smart procurement at the top of the international agenda. Donors should stop thinking of aid, especially food aid, as another channel to export agricultural surpluses and consider its purpose in helping developing countries to be independent and to provide for their own people.

Read the full briefing: Smart procurement for food security