Aligning Policy And Legal Frameworks For Supporting Smallholder Farming Through Public Food Procurement: The Case Of Home-Grown School Feeding Programmes

In the past few years, various countries, regions and cities from low-income to high-income economies have been developing a range of food procurement initiatives designed to use the regular demand for food on the part of government entities as a policy instrument targeting broader development objectives.

These initiatives—also referred to as Institutional Food Procurement Programmes (IFPPs)—are based on the premise that public institutions, when using their  financial capacity and purchasing power to award contracts, can go beyond the immediate scope of responding to the state’s procurement needs by addressing additional social, environmental or economic needs that contribute to the overall public good of the state (McCrudden 2004; De Schutter 2014; Kelly and Swensson 2017).

In particular, public food procurement initiatives have been recognised, especially in low-income economies, as a potential policy instrument to support local and smallholder farmers and to help integrate them into markets. They are thus recognised as a potential driver of the transformative development of local food systems (Morgan and Sonnino 2008; Sumberg and Sabates-Wheeler 2010; Gelli and Lesley 2010; Foodlinks 2013; De Schutter 2014; 2015; Fitch and Santo 2016; HLPE 2017; Kelly and Swensson 2017; UNSCN 2017).

A key example of public food procurement initiatives is offered by home-grown school feeding programmes. Although the definition of ‘home-grown’ may vary, this type of programme may be understood as a school feeding model that is designed to provide children in schools with safe, diverse and nutritious food, sourced locally from smallholders (FAO and WFP 2018). Other relevant examples of public food procurement initiatives include ones linked to strategic food reserves and broader food security programmes.

Various studies, as well as development projects, have analysed the key challenges involved in developing inclusive public food procurement initiatives that target smallholder farmers and their organisations, the reforms needed to bring these about, and the lessons to be learned from the current situation. Among the key lessons learned, there is an increasing recognition of the importance of a conducive and aligned public procurement policy and regulatory framework5 (Morgan and Sonnino 2008; Sumberg and Sabates-Wheeler 2010; Brooks et al. 2014; Swensson 2015; FAO 2013; Kelly and Swensson 2017; Swensson and Klug 2017). This includes, in particular, the alignment of public procurement laws, regulations and related practices.

The paper Aligning Policy And Legal Frameworks For Supporting Smallholder Farming Through Public Food Procurement: The Case Of Home-Grown School Feeding Programmesaims to help build this dialogue, bringing to the food procurement and rural development literature an analysis of the various legal mechanisms that can be used to align the regulatory framework in pursuit of broader development goals by means of public procurement in the form of home-grown school feeding programmes.

Luana F. J. Swensson

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