In Norway, there is a legend about a little fairy creature, no more than two feet tall, who would find a home on a farm. The nisse, as it was called, had a beard and wore a red cap, as described by author Margaret Chrislock Gilseth.
The nisse, or barn elf, is a shy little helper for farmers in Norwegian folklore. (courtesy Mylittlenorway.com)
The nisse liked a bowl of porridge put out for him. If this happened, the nisse would do chores around the farm. So when the farmer got up the next morning, what a relief it would be to see some work already done. The nisse even helped the farmer acquire some new equipment. Wow! A farmer's best friend.
This little agricultural boost provided by the nisse is a "short" way of summing up what the World Food Programme (WFP) is trying to do with its Purchase for Progress program.
The idea is to take a small farmer in a developing country and give him some help here and there so he can boost production. The farmer can expand his market and be lifted out of poverty.
This would be like the nisse getting his farmer some seeds, better storage facilities for the food, and improved farming equipment. Although legend has it that the nisse would obtain this equipment by stealing, that is why nisses are not hired by WFP. But still, through legal means, WFP is able to give the same boost the nisse does.
Also, the WFP program offers training. One Purchase for Progress recipient points out that "learning different techniques of post harvest handling like cleaning or fumigating his produce has proven invaluable knowledge."
Better farming tools, education and training, and help connecting to a market can change the farmer's plight in a positive way. It is one of the steps toward making food more plentiful in developing countries. It is a core element of the Feed the Future plan put forward by the United States. And this also means an extra bowl of porridge for the nisse.