Public procurement: Uruguay

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In a module on public procurement organized by REAF in Uruguay last June, the speakers presented a number of production-related activities. Includ ing the marketing of goat milk, grape juice for schoolchildren, or the sale of beef, pork, lamb, fish and fruit and vegetables at municipal stores in Rocha, Uruguay. 

Moreover, the attendees learned about the experience of the cooperative Molino Santa Rosa, a plant recovered by its workers and turned into a cooperative, as well as the role it played in the development of the department, recovering crops such as wheat and bean plant.

In the first two modules conducted in Brazil and Argentina in 2011 and 2012, the topics discussed included the policies implemented by these governments to articulate their procurement from family farmers.

As a result, the first meeting of this module on Uruguay was devoted to summarize these experiences. This would enable the Uruguayan guests to learn about these situations. "There were many coincidences", Fernando Rodríguez, Uruguayan expert before REAF highlighted to the FIDA MERCOSUR Program.

"This first meeting gave us first-hand information on how the theme was handled in these two countries. On Tuesday we started with the part on policies to promote the inclusion of family farming", he pointed out.

Some other examples currently under way include: Rodríguez discussed one of the recent experiences that started as a result of a surplus production of grape. A pilot plan between Inavi (the National Institute for Grape and Wine Growing ) and the National Education Administration (ANEP ) for the procurement of grape and subsequent production of juice that was distributed in the schools of Montevideo. "It is distributed at schools, especially in the belt surrounding Montevideo. It is a high-quality product and the idea is to extend (the program) across the country", he pointed out.

He also briefed the audience on another project related with goat milk, currently implemented at the plant Pagro, of the Municipality of Montevideo, in Peñarol. Small farmers submit their goat milk production there, to be processed and distributed to hospitals and points of sale with due permits.

"The goat adapts perfectly well to family farming, but producers have marketing problems. Today they deliver their raw material to a manufacturing plant that is also in charge of selling the products manufactured".

 

"If you assure the final point of delivery… that changes things".

"We show (foreigners) the traditional marketing systems, the issue of the middlemen; because today producers depend on the broker - or middleman - and they are unable to negotiate prices”, he explained. In this same line he highlighted the importance of public procurement as a driver: “If you ensure the final point of delivery to farmers… that makes the change".

Even when what is being done in the country is very incipient, the people that attended the Uruguay module also had a chance to see the experiences of Rocha and Canelones.

"Quality is good, prices are good, and it is a win-win deal."

In the case of Rocha, the Municipality recycled a sales system that had been very useful to pay the municipality workers during years of financial crisis at the local governments prior to 2005. "Officials used to be paid most of their salaries in meat, products… That had even led to the development of a black market for meat", who also pointed out that now the community development committees of Castillos and Route 109 sell cattle to the municipality; that cattle is slaughtered at the municipal slaughter house and sold to the officials at the municipal store. That system has now become a regular point of sale, and the meat offered has a good quality.

"The municipality workers may take advantage of that if they wish, but the meat obtained there has a better quality and price. Today, workers buy products that meet the required quality standards and in the volumes needed; hence, Adeom is interested in extending the system to the entire department (today that it is only implemented in Rocha, a city in the east of the country). The quality is good, prices are good, and it is a win-win situation", highlighted Rodríguez.

Another example is that of artisanal fishermen in Laguna de Rocha. Today they have water supplied by the national water company (OSE) and they are filleting fish in a barn. They have a cold storage truck (provided through the program Uruguay Integra), which enables them to deliver fish in hospitals, cafeterias and soup kitchens. "Sales now are made almost directly to end consumers".

"On Thursday in Canelones we saw the articulation of government institutions for the recovery of the old Santa Rosa Mill. It is now a cooperative, and its members are implementing a development policy for the department of Canelones, revitalizing two crops that had almost disappeared. The first for the production of flour, and the second for the production of corn flour for savory pastry.

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