Inclusive procurement and transparency: connecting smallholder farmers to school feeding
Inclusive procurement is a deliberate way for governments to purchase goods or services from specific unfavoured or vulnerable supplier categories in order to advance social and economic development. However, public procurements must also meet transparency requirements in place to maintain integrity and to safeguard the expenditure of public funds. This document analyses the tension between the principles of open procurement and the targeting of specific groups, in particular smallholder farmers, and offers specific modalities and examples for how procuring entities can apply targeted procurement while maintaining transparency and fairness. The paper draws on the procurement process for government-funded school feeding programmes in Ghana, Kenya and Mali, and highlights the need for these processes to be inclusive of smallholder farmers, especially women, and at the same improve competition and generate value for money. The document provides recommendations on administrative adjustments to "level the playing field", focused procurement and procurement planning that can be used by procurement entities, and underlines ways to strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers and producer organisations to be able to compete effectively in tenders. The document concludes that transparency need not be compromised in public procurement when procuring entities are supported to plan, adapt, and implement tools that are inclusive of vulnerable groups.