To encourage market participation from family farmers and to facilitate market transactions, the Guatemala WFP CO developed the School Feeding Management Application (SFMA or ’the app’), a smartphone application that connects schools and registered suppliers in the nearby area. Without the app, schools are often dependent on large-scale agricultural producers and/or intermediaries, who make it difficult for schools to procure directly from small-holder farmers. Introduced in 2017, the Guatemalan Ley de Alimentación Escolar (LAE) aims to both ensure that all Guatemalan primary-school children have access to nutritional school meals as well as increasing procurement from local small-holder farmers (suppliers) to 50% of purchases. The app thus assists in facilitating the connection between schools and local suppliers in support of the LAE, allowing schools and suppliers to easily submit orders and place bids, respectively, on this digital marketplace.
There are several goals this app aims to achieve. First, to strengthen the school procurement process by increasing the supply of locally produced nutritious food in thousands of schools in Guatemala where the app is implemented. Second, to increase its efficiency by reducing search and transaction costs. Finally, to improve the local economy by encouraging suppliers to sell food to schools.
The pilot will be implemented in six departments of Guatemala (Alta Verapaz, Chimaltenango, Chiquimula, El Progreso, Escuintla, and San Marcos). Training will be organized in schools with OPFs and suppliers to cover the importance of the LAE, Guatemala’s school feeding law, and compliance with the requirements of the law. MINEDUC and MAGA will also provide additional detailed training on the new procurement app to promote the use of the app among OPFs and suppliers.
This app can potentially support the LAE in developing agricultural markets in predominantly agricultural communities, which would positively impact local cooperatives and farmers. If the app improves the efficiency of market transactions, then it may also lead to increased quality and diversity of meals such that they adhere to the government-suggested menu.
While treatment and control status for schools and suppliers are decided by the treatment status of the municipality they belong to, both control and treatment schools and suppliers will receive training and be reminded on the importance of the LAE, compliance with the requirements of the law, and general procurement process. The only difference between the control and treatment groups is that treatment schools and suppliers will be trained on the use of the new SFMA app. Providing training to both control and treatment groups ensures that any changes in outcomes is attributable to the differences in the training content.