Linking farmers and caterers through matchmaking events

Linking farmers and caterers through matchmaking events

The impact of matchmaking events facilitated by the Procurement Governance for Home Grown School Feeding (PG-HGSF) project is becoming more apparent in some districts in Ghana. Matchmaking events are short workshops that give school feeding caterers the opportunity to meet and link up with suppliers, such as farmer organisations and traders. In 2013, matchmaking events were held in 10 districts in Ghana and a particularly successful initial matchmaking event was held in Karaga. Recently, a second matchmaking event was held in Karaga to review agreements made in 2013 by caterers and suppliers and some interesting details were revealed.

In Ghana, the hiring of school feeding caterers is done at a district level and typically, the district assembly will contract one particular caterer for each school that participates in the Ghana School Feeding Program to prepare their school meals. The caterer is in charge of procuring the necessary food needed through suppliers of their choosing, whether that be through traders or farmers. The matchmaking event is meant to give farmer organisations the opportunity to supply caterers, thus linking more smallholder farmers to school feeding. Some traders also attend the events and can link up with caterers, however they are encouraged to purchase their products from local farmers or their organisations. For the event, caterers will list what food products they need and of what quantity. Then, the farmer organisation or trader that can provide the specific supplies requested will be “matched” with the caterer. At the end of the matchmaking event, the caterer and supplier will draw up a memorandum of understanding (MOU) or a document of business intent to work together in the future.

In April, the matchmaking event in Karaga was attended by a total of 31 participants (21 women and 10 men). The purpose of this event was for the participants to review and evaluate the Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) and business intentions signed during the first match making event in 2013. The participants were encouraged to express what they thought went well, challenges they encountered, actions taken to address them, and discuss ways forward. In total, 12 out of 15 MOUs signed in 2013 were reviewed. The Ghana team was pleased to learn that all 12 caterers reported that they purchased food produced by smallholder farmers either directly, or indirectly from traders or processors.

Caterers expressed their appreciation of the match making events and suppliers were also positive about what they had learned from the events. Madam Salima Amadu, the secretary of the traders association was quoted saying, “We understand better the importance of the linkage to farmers and we are now ready to add more farmers as our suppliers”

Out of 27 total caterers in Karaga district, 12 caterers attended the match making event. Out of those 12 caterers, seven were linked directly to eight farmer organisations. These farmer organisations are composed of 131 farmers (63 male, 68 female). It is hoped through linking and learning opportunities such as matchmaking events, it will soon be possible to have all the caterers intentionally purchase most of their products from local smallholder farmers.