OBTAINING THE FOOD - Food Resources Manual

Estimating Food Requirements and Time For Arrivals

  1. Amount of Food Required
  2. The Annual Estimate of Requirements (AER) required by USAID for PL 480 Title II programs is an example of how to estimate the total quantity of food needed for a program. Simply put, the ration size x population size x the number of distributions = the total amount of food required.

    A plan also helps determine when the food needs to be called forward from the donor country and how much need to be procured over the life of the project.

    The plan for estimating tonnage needs should include the following basic information:

    • Type of program
    • Number of recipients
    • Number of feeding days per month
    • Number of operating months per year
    • Number of recipients per food type
    • Ration size per food type
    • Total amount requested by type of program and food type
    • Expected arrivals and distributions of food by the end of the current fiscal year
    • Desired operating reserve
    • Total adjusted food requirement for the next fiscal year.
  3. Procurement Timetable
  4. Once estimated food needs are determined, country offices must also estimate the amount of time it will actually take to deliver food to project beneficiaries. To receive food in time for distribution, country offices must plan and request shipments of food well in advance.

    The following two examples show of the length of time it takes to submit proposals to donors and then to receive food for distribution to beneficiaries. Unless there are already pre-positioned stocks in-country or food that can be easily diverted from other areas, it may take as long as six months before food reaches beneficiaries, even in emergencies.

    EC/Euronaid Scheduling

Call Forward

The call forward is a request for delivery of a specified amount of food to a particular country program for use at specified periods of time. While distribution of all food may span more than a year and a half, the call forward process arranges for export of food from donor countries or sources on a regular basis throughout the life of the project. To prepare a call forward country offices must know existing balances of food, expected arrival times of shipments already requested and how much food they plan to distribute. Once the call forward is approved, the donor procures the food and arranges shipments with CARE.

Call forwards for Title II programs must be consistent with the purchase schedule. While there are differences in purchase times if food is shipped in bulk or in bags or containers, call forwards must be timed to match the purchase and shipping periods that will get food to a program as quickly as possible.

For food from other donors, country offices should contact the CI member who submitted the proposals.

To meet donor purchasing schedules and insure that food will be available on time, country offices must estimate the interval between the time the call forward is approved and the time the food is available for consumption. If a country office wanted food exported from the United States by October 1995, a call forward must have been submitted to USAID by July 1995 To facilitate planning for the Procurement Office, other CI members and donors, country offices should provide CARE USA’s Procurement Office and Food Security Unit or the appropriate CI member with projected call forward schedules for an upcoming fiscal year, i.e. the times during the year food will be called forwarded from the exporting country.

  1. Commodity Pipeline Analysis
  2. Commodity pipeline analyses provide information about where food is in the project pipeline, whether there will be a continuous, uninterrupted flow of food for distribution or whether there may be interruptions. The pipeline analysis takes into account all food resources that are on order, on the high seas, at the port, in local warehouses, in transit to distribution sites, and available at the sites. It also takes into account the time it will take for the food to move through the pipeline. Using the following format for a pipeline analysis, a call forward can be prepared and submitted to the Procurement Office which submits it to the Procurement Section of USAID’s Office of Food for Peace in Washington.

    If country offices have different types of projects, e.g., supplementary feeding and food for work, separate pipeline analyses are done for each project and then consolidated into one overall analysis.


  3. Submission of Call Forward
  4. Call forwards are submitted to the local USAID office and to CARE USA’s Procurement Office for U.S. donors, and through CARE International member offices for other donors. Usually, each call forward covers projected quarterly needs, although intervals can be shorter or longer for development or emergency programs.

  5. Content of the Call Forward
  6. Donors may require different information for call forwards, but in general they should contain:

    • Types and quantities of food
    • Package sizes
    • Port of destination
    • Shipment mode (i.e., container specifications)
    • Timing of the food arrival
    • All required sanitary certifications
    • Local donor representative endorsements.
  7. Unavailability of Requested Food
  8. There may be instances where requested food is not available because of alack of availability, seasonal constraints, or poor harvests. Also, when food is purchased commercially, factors such as trade agreements or other market conditions may push the dollar value of the food over the amount budgeted by the donor for purchases. In order not to cause breaks in food pipelines, country offices may want to indicate alternative foods.

Purchase of Food by Donors

Once donors receive a country office’s call forward, they arrange to procure food usually on a competitive bid basis from suppliers in the donor’s country. The donor is responsible for tendering, insurance, procurement, and dispatch of shipments from their origins to the primary (and sometimes secondary) point of distribution. Country offices will only become involved with procurement of food or other goods if they are purchased locally or if donors have given permission to buy in other countries.

  1. Specifications
  2. To assure that food is of good quality and fit to eat by program beneficiaries, donors and host governments require that food meet certain specifications. These may vary for different types of food. Country offices must make sure that the specifications established by the donor are consistent with those required by the country where the food will be consumed. If not, a ministry may refuse to let the ship discharge the food at the port or food could beheld in a port warehouse until the government is satisfied it meets standards.

    The factors listed below are taken into consideration by donors when they make their purchases:

    • Maximum moisture content upon loading
    • Maximum allowable bad and damaged grains
    • Maximum allowable impurities
    • Chemical treatments
    • Country and year of harvest of the grain
    • Shelf life of food
    • Packaging of the grain
    • Insurance terms
    • Payment terms.
  3. Packaging
  4. Considerations involved in food packaging include:

    • Program requirements
    • Durability of the package or container
    • Ease of handling
    • Warehouse and storage capacity
    • Composition of packaging
    • Resistance to moisture and infestation
    • Cost
    • Reuse potential of the package or container.

    Three types of standardized package are generally used.

  5. Expedited Procurement Options
  6. In emergency situations food is needed immediately. If normal procurement is too slow, shipments are delayed or the number of beneficiaries in a program have increased, country offices must examine a variety of options to obtain food more quickly. Suggestions include:

    1. Transfers and Loans
    2. CARE may request a transfer or loan of food from another CARE project or other organizations such as government, NGO, private or multilateral reserve stocks in country or in neighboring countries. A written request should be sent to the donor explaining the reasons for the request. While CARE is not obligated to repay food transfers, they are required to repay food loans. Both the donor and the organization supplying the food must agree in writing to the loan or transfer arrangements.

      In all cases, it is important to consider the quality of the food borrowed or used to pay back a loan, the logistics costs, and the time limit to pay back the loans. CARE should insure that loans are repaid according to the terms of the agreement.

    3. Food Diversion
    4. In some circumstances, food at a donor port or on board a ship bound for are gular program may be diverted to an emergency program. The following steps should be taken to divert a shipment:

      • Identify the amount of food needed.
      • Obtain permission from the donor to divert the food, and, if the food belongs to an organization other than CARE, obtain permission to use the food.
      • Agree in writing with the donor and other organization how the food will be replaced.
      • Determine if the vessel can enter the intended port.
      • Determine if there is sufficient storage to permit discharge of the food.
      • Insure that a provision exists for payment of diversion charges.

      Since diversion of food is difficult and expensive, this option should only be considered after all other means of procurement have proven impossible. The challenge is to replace the food before there is any negative impact on the program from which the food is diverted.

    5. Prepositioned Stocks
    6. To meet emergency needs, some governments and donors have prepositioned food at donor ports, in recipient country ports, in other regions of the recipient country, or in nearby countries, to be programmed through NGOs. The food reserves are most often in vulnerable regions, such as East Africa.

    7. Local Purchase
    8. This is often the easiest way of obtaining food and supplies, provided they exist in sufficient supply to meet the need. However, there is a tendency for prices to increase as procurement increases. Attention must be paid to prices wings which affect those in the local population who are already in the low income category.

      Purchase of food locally generally reduces the risk that the food could be culturally unacceptable to the population.

      Issues to consider in deciding to purchase food locally are:

      • Terms of sale
      • What currency to use and how payment will be made
      • Credibility of local suppliers
      • Tender process and minimum number of bids
      • Impact of purchase on local economy
      • Delivery of food in standard weight bags or containers.

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