Making the case for institutional demand: Supporting smallholders through procurement and food assistance programmes
This paper in the Global Food Security Journal focuses on the rationale for supporting market interventions for smallholders through what the authors call Institutional Demand. This consists of different interventions that target procurement from smallholder farmers and distribute their surplus to vulnerable populations. This policy intervention links the goals of both agricultural development and social protection through three key areas: price stabilization; income generation and; food security. It is argued that Institutional Demand should be a key policy intervention as it can directly address both rural poverty and malnutrition. It does this by linking the productive capacity of smallholder farmers with populations living in situations of food insecurity. Impact evaluations and assessments of Institutional Demand programmes are limited in scope and depth. Therefore, while this paper outlines much of the evidence thus far, the primary purpose of this paper is to push forward a new research agenda that looks at the ways in which Institutional Demand can promote policy synergies between the goals of social protection and agricultural development. There are few key elements of the procurement system that must be considered when designing Institutional Demand policies: the objectives; the scale of the demand; the modalities to reach the most vulnerable producers and farmer organizations; rules and regulations which might restrict smallholders ability to participate in procurement processes; and food safety and quality management, which might be very strict, making smallholders unable to comply. The issues outlined in this paper present fruitful areas for more qualitative and quantitative assessments of Institutional Demand programmes.