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Collective potato cold storage facility for small-scale farmers in Bangladesh

A potato cold storage facility that reduces post-harvest losses and increases farmer income through shared storage ownership.

Photo of Auke Douma
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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Bangladesh produces 9 million mT of potatoes per year. Most of this production comes from small-scale farmers. Other than most crops potatoes are grown in winter, providing much needed extra income for farmers. However, a short harvest period causes a great imbalance in supply and demand causing market prices to take a free fall. As a result, farmers make a very low return on their investment and an estimated 1.5 million mT of potatoes get wasted annually. A few months after harvest, demand starts to increase and the local market price for potatoes rises threefold. When farming, harvesting, pre-processing and storage are done properly, potatoes can stay fresh for over half a year without quality loss. Yet, there’s a great lack of storages in Bangladesh. The public and private storages that are available, charge high prices and fail to handle and cool the potatoes adequately. This leaves farmers with a dilemma: Sell their potatoes right after harvest against production price or pay a premium for unreliable storage. Our team is working on an affordable, semi-central, 1000mT cold storage for small-scale farmers that will eliminate farmer uncertainty and food waste from the supply chain. The storage will be solar-powered and uses quality cooling technology in which humidity, CO2-levels and temperature will be controlled. Through a social business model, farmers gathered in a farm business group (FBG) will become shared storage owners over time simply by storing potatoes.

WHO BENEFITS?

Small-scale potato farmers and their families benefit most from the cold storages. The men often take care of the actual farming, yet women are the experts and decision-makers. There are up to 40.000 Bangladeshi potato farmers in the PROOFS program that we aim to grant access to proper storage. Additionally, if we were able to prevent 1.5 million mT of potatoes from going to waste, an estimated 1 million people can be properly fed for an entire year.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

In Bangladesh, yet the concept could be of value elsewhere (we are exploring Kenya too). Our current focus is at the Northern region of Bangladesh (Rangpur) where we aim to co-develop and pilot a cold storage with one FBG before the end of the year.

ARE YOU IMPLEMENTING IN AN ELIGIBLE COUNTRY?

  • Yes

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU!

We are the BoP Innovation Center, a not-for-profit organization from The Netherlands. In a joint effort with ICCO and iDE we've set up the PROOFS program in Bangladesh to improve food security among small-scale farmers in Bangladesh. Our PROOFS team is based Dhaka, Bangladesh. http://bopinc.org

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

Not entirely. The BoP Innovation Center provides services and tools to develop, learn about and accelerate inclusive businesses for bottom of the pyramid markets. We have been carrying out projects in the areas of inclusive innovation, marketing and distribution and inclusive business empowerment in Sub Saharan Africa and Asia for more than five years and work closely with global and local partners. Working on a number of projects in Bangladesh within the PROOFS program, over the past three years we have developed and implemented a number of innovations to provide profitable food security. With our local team members, we’ve been exploring and researching the idea of a collective cold storage facility and knowledge center for small-scale potato farmers. Working on an idea like this is nothing new to our organization, the fact that we do this on our own account (as opposed to working on a contract-basis for our clients) is. We dove into this challenge as we firmly believe there is a solid, social and inclusive business case to build around potato cold storage in Bangladesh.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

Although in low supply, potato cold storages are by no means new to Bangladesh. The idea for a collective cold storage facility however, does bring something new to the table. Our proposed storages will run on solar energy instead of power from the grid, reducing environmental impact and eliminating power cuts. Quality systems for climate control will improve potato quality and lifetime. Tying these elements together in a semi-central capacity (small enough to be close to farmers, big enough to offer aggregating harvest to buyers) is unique. The real difference we make revolves around a social business model in which the FBG will gradually become the storage owner. This makes them less dependent on current storage owners, less volatile to fluctuating market prices, and it allows for additional income and improves the bargaining position. To implement this idea, we currently have 200 fully active FBGs. Several FBGs are willing to invest time and resources to set up a pilot with us. Furthermore, the BoP Innovation Center has a broad network of partners, that may offer technical support and contribute to turning this idea into a success.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

The PROOFS program is a joint effort by the BoP Innovation Center, ICCO and iDE. Our (local) team is taking the lead in setting up a pilot by the end the year. In order to make this happen, we have found several parties interested to take responsibility for construction, cooling technology, solar power and farming expertise. Daily operation is the responsibility of the FBGs farm business administrator and will be monitored by our team. We are looking for partners to help us scale and expand.

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

Focus group sessions with farmers from two FBGs, using storytelling and visualizations of the storage and the supply chain to map out the user experience (find attached), brought several changes and improvements to the concept. Our initial focus was on growing and storing processing (instead of table) variety potatoes, and storing the entire harvest for several months. As it turns out, the farmers are not ready to switch potato varieties, according to agro-experts increasing the production of table potatoes is far more feasible and promising. Therefore storage capacity should be higher, around 1000mT. Furthermore, the farmers are incredibly willing to take a share and invest in their own storage and want to pay a premium (30% more than regular storage fees) to store their produce in their own storage. Yet, they want to have some cash directly after harvest to pay of debts (for seed potatoes and pesticides), and prefer to store 80% of the potatoes and sell 20% directly. Agro-experts tell us that through knowledge sharing and proper quality control before storage (pre-processing) the yearly harvest will be much higher (double or triple) and the potato quality will be better.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

1. The storage, and the potatoes it contains, will be owned by the FBG. How to orchestrate this shared ownership? How do we finance the startup costs? How to design a fitting financial model? 2. How to translate functional requirements for a proper cold storage to a product that all farmers want to invest in? 3. How do we increase our impact? What partner(s) should we work with to scale and expand? 4. How do we optimize the storage occupancy? What other crops needs cooling? 5. How can we optimize the cold storage building process and reduce costs? How do we organize maintenance locally? 6. How do we secure ownership by participatory design methods? How do best organize this?

WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?

First, setting up collective cold storage requires lots of farmers and a handful of suppliers to work together. It takes a lot of organizing and necessary capital to make this happen. No organization thus far has taken up the challenge to lead such an initiative. Second, many do-good-organizations, provide training to farmers to increase their yield, yet the cold chain to stomach this produce is lacking entirely. Commercial businesses do focus on large-scale storages, but mostly work with contract farmers, creating increased contractor dependency rather than farmer income. In order to really, sustainably improve farmer livelihood, cold chain issues need to be tackled collectively.

WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?

We want to turn financially uncertain farmers into self-sufficient storage owners that can take care of their families and their future. We believe moving up the supply chain, by granting farmers access to quality cold storage, is necessary to take to make this happen. We have no doubt the cold storage will greatly benefit farmers and their families, the next step for us it to run a pilot with an entire farm business group and prove the success of the concept to the world.

MEMBERS OF MY TEAM HAVE BEEN WORKING TOGETHER FOR:

  • More than a year

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within 100 km of where our team does most of its work

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • Between $500,000 and $1,000,000

We deleted this section. 

43 comments

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Comment
Photo of Masood
Team

Do you help private investors also about potato cold storage in Bangladesh

Photo of Evan Easton-Calabria
Team

This is a wonderful idea that addresses some important needs. However, despite the apparent value of this idea, this proposal is not properly fleshed out, and several important questions are left unanswered. These include:

- How many people/farmers does this benefit?

- How many people are in a farmer business group?

- How will you address potential problems with collective (rather than individual) storage?

- What sort of time and resources would farmer business groups invest/donate? What type of agreement would occur for this?


In addition, the knowledge centre is mentioned but not at all explicated, making it unconvincing as a viable component of the project. My main concern, however, lies with the lack of experience with collective ownership models, meaning that farmer business groups may enter into insecure and ultimately unsustainable partnerships. If the knowledge centre is planned further and if it could be assured that the needed financial guidance would be provided, this would be a great project that would support many livelihoods.

Photo of Gerwin Jansen
Team

Hi Evan, thanks for your questions. Let me try to answer them.

Q: How many people/farmers does this benefit? How many people are in a farmer business group?

A: There are over 750.000 potato farmers in Bangladesh. We estimate that at least two thirds of them are small-scale farmers that struggle earning a decent income by growing potatoes, and would greatly benefit given access to proper cold storage. Self-evidently, taking into account the entire farmer family, we will be able to impact over a million people at least.

Within the PROOFS program there are 40.000 farmers, spread over roughly 150 FBGs. The size of of the FBGs varies a little but it usually between 200 and 300 farmers. The FBGs we can directly approach, as they are all represented by a farm business administrator (FBA) that we stay in touch with.



___________



Q: How will you address potential problems with collective (rather than individual) storage?

A: Very good question. We have been iterating on this quite a lot. Together with farmers from two FBGs and based on similar model for collective storage of apples in India we’ve come to the following solution/model:

All farmers in the FBG bring their potatoes to the storage after harvest. Since we keep track of land size and estimated yield, we know what potato quantity and quality to expect. Upon arrival at the storage, potatoes are taken from their jute bags, graded (A, B, and C-grade), sorted, puts in mesh nets and labeled.

The cooling equipment comes with software that allows farmers to look up how many potatoes (and what quality) each farmer has put in the storage at any given moment. They can also see what the other farmers are storing, and can monitor the storage climate. And the potatoes can be traced back to its original source (interesting marketing opportunity currently rarely used in Bangladesh and on the longer run inevitable for export to premium markets).

Since we want to sell aggregated potatoes (allowing the farmers to obtain a higher price), this is where it gets interesting. Instead of having to pay for storage upfront (current practice), the farmers receive payment for the potatoes they store, directly after entering the storage. This means the FBG is basically purchasing potatoes from the individual farmer, ensuring aggregated sales when the market prices have increased.

Photo of Gerwin Jansen
Team

Q: What sort of time and resources would farmer business groups invest/donate? What type of agreement would occur for this?

A: Another good question. Bare with me when I explain this. Simply put, the farmers put no additional time and resources in making this happen. Paying back the initial investment will be fully covered by the premium price that can be obtained from selling potatoes off-season.

In practice this will translate to the following scenario: Farmers will be paid for the potatoes they put in the storage. This will be a set price depending on a daily rate (countrywide standard) minus handling and transport costs (which will be determined by the FBG). Per kg this will be 5 to 7 BDT/kg upon arrival (same as on the market). After half a year, the potatoes get sold for 15 to 20 BDT/kg. One third of this price has already gone to the farmers, another third will be used to payback to investment needed to build the storage. The remaining third goes to the farmers in the form of dividend after subtracting operational and maintenance costs. This can be more if the potatoes are sold for a higher price (prices can up to 25 BDT/kg).

Over the course of five to ten years (worst case or best case scenario) the initial invest to build the storage will be fully paid of. Making the farmers the financial owners. Managerial ownership and financial control stays with the FBA. This secures the right decisions will be made to turn the storage in a commercially viable business. This model is relatively straightforward for cooperatives (commonly used in agricultural and dairy coops). It is good to know that in this model, being actual shareholders, the farmers are considered equal business partners.

At the very worst, farmers will receive an income equal to their current earnings, while becoming a storage co-owner. Being quite cautious with our projections, and taking into account revenue from storing other crops, we expect the income will easily be 50% higher. Obviously, this only goes for the first few years, after that farmers have paid off their share they will be able to double their income.

To get back to your worries about collective ownership. We have built-in a couple safety measures to make sure the farmer will only benefit from the collective storage. First, our approach will be very transparent, farmers will be able to monitor their produce and at what price it is being sold, all price-setting and related decision-making will be done before harvest and storage. Second, we will never allow farmers to store all of their produce with us. In case the storage does not turn out to be a success, farmers should be able to fall back on their original sales channels. We do not want create a monopoly and dependency within our own system. Third, to prevent the collectivity to become an inflexible and bureaucratic organization and an administrative mumbo-jumbo, farmers will only become financial shareholders. The storage will be run like a business by the FBA. Just like any other business, it will need sufficient profit to meet its loan obligations, capitalize the company, and pay premium prices to the farmers who supplied produce.



_________



Q: Can you better explain the knowledge center?

A: The knowledge center was originally a part of the storage. Our initial idea was to include a local center that can help farmer with selecting and buying the right seeds, pesticides and tools and get insights on how to best go about farming their potatoes (and potentially other crops). Building an actual center for this next to each and every storage will be overkill. Instead, parallel to this project, we want to set up a knowledge network with the help of private sector partners that can tap into a new market for their products while share knowledge. It is out of the scope for the contribution in this competition.

Photo of Gerwin Jansen
Team

Evan Easton-Calabria 
Chioma Ume (this might be relevant for  you as well)

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Thanks for your help on this Gerwin. Hope you get a better idea on what are planning to do Evan Easton-Calabria 

Feel free to get in touch if you need further clarification on the above explanation. 

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

It is, thanks so much for tagging me! 

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi Auke,

In addition to Evan's comments below, here is some feedback from some of our other experts and members of the Amplify team:

Can you tell us a little more about your relationship with you partners? How long have you worked together? Have you thought about how responsibility for this project will be shared?

How will male and female farmers benefit equally from this initiative. Will women farmers be able to fully participate and become more empowered by this initiative?

Based on my background in collective finance mechanisms, I would very much like to see this idea brought to life as it seems very implementable, based on real needs, and capable of success given the right guidance and conditions.

How many private sector entrepreneurs have you approached with this idea and what has their reaction been? Have you developed a full business model for this and what has been the forecast for this business? What is your position on enhancing women's economic empowerment and how will you ensure this in your business model?

What are you interested in using Amplify's funding and design support for? 

Looking forward to learning more! 

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Hi Chioma,

Thanks for your feedback and questions. I’ve taken a few hours to properly answer them. Find them repeated and answered below. If my explanations raise new questions, please feel free to let me know. Happy and excited to tell you more about we are trying to accomplish.

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Q: Can you tell us a little more about your relationship with you partners?
How long have you worked together? Have you thought about how responsibility for this project will be shared?

A: The PROOFS program has been running for exactly three years next month. BoP Innovation Center, ICCO and iDE work together to make this project happen. ICCO is an international NGO with more than 40 years of experience in Bangladesh connecting people, enterprises and organizations with knowledge and innovative ideas. iDE specializes in market development and technology commercialization, and has 30 years of working experience in Bangladesh. We are currently finalizing memoranda of understanding with private sector parties to take care of construction, power supply, pre-processing equipment, cooling and climate technology, and agro-businesses to supply farmers with quality seeds, tubers, pesticides, knowledge and expertise. The Dutch have a strong background in growing potatoes, so part of these parties are from The Netherlands. Wherever we see fit, we try to work with local parties.

We as BoP Innovation Center will organize the pilot aiming to demonstrate the quality of the storage and feasibility of the business case. The private sector parties will work on a contract base and provide the relevant technology, equipment and expertise. Financial responsibility lies with a (social) investor or scaling partner(s) and will gradually shift to the farmers.

______


Q: How will male and female farmers benefit equally from this initiative? Will women farmers be able to fully participate and become more empowered by this initiative?


A: Yes, we believe so. We’ve interviewed and spoken with at least twenty female farmers and they’ve shown great interest in the cold storage. Other than you might expect, the women in the farmer families the potato experts and decision-makers. The men work on the field and mostly go to their wives for help and input. The decision to be a part and own a share of a collective cold storage will be a choice made by the women. To further extend our concept (in the years to come) we are looking into options to process bad quality or lower grade potatoes on sight with the help of women.


______




Q: How many private sector entrepreneurs have you approached with this idea and what has their reaction been?

A:We have spoken with at least ten private sector businesses, ranging from climate and cooling technology firms, constructors, solar and power suppliers, seeds and tuber producers, agro-businesses, private storage owners, and potato traders.

Their reactions were mostly positive. They all acknowledge farmers’ problems and see the lack of a proper cold chain in Bangladesh for potatoes and other crops. Most of the issues that these parties could think of in the concept (think of technology, business model, shared ownership, etc.) have been tackled (be it on paper), largely in dialogue with the private sector and farmers.

Simply put and practically spoken: Several private cold storage owners are willing to be a part or even invest in our storages and two FBGs are more than interested to invest in their own storage facility.

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Q: Have you developed a full business model for this and what has been the forecast for this business?

A: We have. We expect that farmers will be able to earn at least 20% more storing their potatoes with us. Payment is split over two periods. The first payment will happen right after harvest (daily rate for table potatoes minus handling and transport cost), and roughly six months later after the potatoes have been sold to traders for a much higher price (the farmers will receive a part of the premium price). On top of this, over time farmers will become owners of the storage. We expect this to happen in about five to ten years. This is also the payback time for a potential investor.

Obviously, forecasting the business model builds on a series of assumptions that we use in our feasibility study. We’re convinced the business case pays out, yet we continue to try and make the forecasts and possible scenarios more solid to strengthen the concept.

______


Q: What is your position on enhancing women's economic empowerment and how will you ensure this in your business model?


A: Women will play a large role in our business model and for their families as they are the decision-makers when it comes to farming and budget. They are the ones to make the call and be a part of the collective storage. We believe, when the cold storages prove successful, the women will come out as entrepreneurs, leaving the men to work the land. Other than this we are looking into other ways to further include women (see aforementioned opportunity to process lower grade potatoes on sight).

______


Q: What are you interested in using Amplify's funding and design support for?


A: We need the funding to set up a pilot in the coming potato season, it's that simple. 80% of the funding will go directly into the actual realization of the storage, 10% will go to our local team and another 10% to our Dutch team. The design support will come in most useful to strengthen and finalize the concept and properly prepare for the pilot. Technical support to design the storage (and how it is used) is most welcome. Then third, we’d like to properly introduce design methods and thinking to our Bangladeshi team members.

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi Anke,
Thanks for all the additional details! What has the PROOFs program been working on over the past three years? (You don't have to share a lot of details, but a general sense of the main project(s) would be great) What organization is the Dutch team affiliated with? In your MOU are you contemplating that different organizations in the partnership will take on different levels of work and responsibility?
Thanks!

Photo of Gerwin Jansen
Team

Hi Chioma,



Thanks for your question! I’ll support Auke in answering this one.



PROOFS is a 4 year program that ultimately aims to improve food security in the rural areas of Bangladesh. On the one hand, the program implements market-led approaches to increase the awareness on nutrition among rural households. On the other hand, PROOFS provides technical and business support to farmers in the same regions by connecting them to more profitable markets for nutritious food. Over the past 3 years, we have connected several private companies to the project that now sell improved farming inputs and machinery to farmers. As a result, many of our (potato) farmers have been able to improve their productivity as well as the quality of their produce.

That’s why we’re now working on the next step in the value chain which is preserving the quality of the potatoes through the cold storage solution that we put forward. We have not done this alone but in close cooperation with our partners in PROOFS, namely ICCO and iDE.
The PROOFS project allows us to pilot the cold storage solution with a pool of excellent farmers as well as a range of partners with complimentary expertises. iDE has much experience with piloting solutions within the rough conditions at the BoP. Furthermore we bring in a number of additional partners that will have to secure the continuation and scaling of the project once PROOFS is finished (est. mid 2017). Our role is to facilitate this multi-stakeholder partnership and to mitigate the risks that our partners foresee in the business case.

We are aware of the different interests that the different partners might have, but we are confident that based on our former experiences with these partnerships we can get to an effective team that is committed to get from idea to impact.



I hope this answers your question.
If you’d like to read more about PROOFS, please go here: http://bopinnovationcenter.com/our-projects/our-projects/proofs

Kind regards,
Gerwin

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Very helpful context! Thanks Gerwin! 

Photo of Lisa Kitinoja
Team

1000 MT is a huge facility... do you have any idea of the amount of solar panels that would be needed and the costs for cooling and cold storage in Bangladesh?  The facility would require electric fans, lights, etc.  The average temperature is 33C, but potatoes will store best at 10C or slightly below.  Evaporative cooling technologies can lower the temperature to only about 2C above the dew point temperature (perhaps 25C?). 

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Hi Lisa Kitinoja 

Great to hear from you. 1000mT sounds like quite a lot indeed. To give you an impression, it's anywhere between 5 and 10 million potatoes. Having said this, it's not that big either. Industrial storages can be at least 20 times as large. 

We've chosen 1000mT is it corresponds with the amount of potatoes that are harvested in and around a typical farmer village in Northern Bangladesh (at least within a radius of 5km). Actually, given the right training, farmers  will be able to harvest much more potatoes (in The Netherlands the yield per acre is about eight times bigger). 

Getting back to your question, yes we have been looking at cooling and solar. Fully powering the storage on solar year round is practically impossible as we would need a whole lot of battery power to store the solar energy. We're currently exploring a hybrid option that combines power from the grid (or a diesel generator) with solar. Send me a direct message if you're interested in the exact figures for cooling and power supply. 

Great that you mention evaporative cooling, as we were part of a pilot a year ago to set up a storage that runs without electricity. The results were mediocre though, in order to properly store potatoes we need to really cool down the air (and control humidity and CO2-levels). We may want to use it for pre-cooling, which takes about one to two weeks and happens after pre-processing and before the potatoes go into the cold storage. During pre-cooling we bring the temperature down so that the potatoes can adjust to a colder climate and our cooling equipment has less of a temperature drop to 
take care of.

Auke

Photo of Mayke Harding
Team

A great project!!

Photo of Mariska Kools
Team

hi auke, interesting idea with lot of potential!

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Hi Mariska Kools 

Thanks, good to see you here :)

Photo of Henk
Team

Hi Auke are you planning to replicate this concept in other potato growing countries?

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Hi Henk  

Great question, don't think I've mentioned that. We do. In large parts of India the conditions for growing potatoes are relatively similar. Although the industry is bit more evolved and matured, India creates an viable opportunity for expansion.

We are also on the verge of exploring the value of the concept in Eastern Africa. To be more specific, Kenya makes quite an interesting country to set-up cold storages. Talking to seed producers and potato processors that operate locally, specifically in rural areas there are significant post-harvest losses and access to commercial markets is oftentimes lacking.  

Having said this, the storage will probably be just as relevant as it will be in Bangladesh. However, the context in which it will operate is significantly different. For instance, there are several seasons to grow potatoes in Africa as opposed to just one season in Bangladesh. The climate is very different too and so are the potato varieties. 

Then third, there are also other crops that might benefit from alike storages. The production and supply chain of onions shows similar shortcomings, and onions have quite similar storage needs. 

If you have any ideas in mind for replication yourself, I'm curious to hear them. 

Auke

Photo of Sidrah Fatma Ahmed
Team

This could be of consequence in many parts of India too- Good Luck!

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Thanks Sidrah Fatma Ahmed :)

Photo of Tarun Sharma
Team

Great! Really interested in what emerges from the participatory process.

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Hi Tarun! Securing and sharing ownership is an interesting puzzle. Since it isn't (and will not be) our cold storage, we feel the farmers themselves should come up with a construction to solve this. We have a bunch of ideas on how go about this, yet could use some help in setting up the process to make this happen. 

Photo of Dorine Poelhekke
Team

Cool idea! We're curious to know what kind of cooling technology you use!

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Hi Dorine Poelhekke 

We're currently discussing ideas for cooling technology with international suppliers and local experts. As explained above we're focusing on using solar panels for power. Any ideas on how biogas might be an alternative of addition to this?

Photo of Divya Makhijani
Team

Hey,

Good to see this. As for one of the questions about solar electricity, i would suggest a business model of selling the surplus electricity to the government as is also done in India. The space requirement for subsistence of the cold storages would be Pretty less as compared to the area available (the rooftops). This is one of the ways, am sure you will find more of these models. Do find out about government policy/contribution in this. It will be really helpful. Good luck

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Hi Divya 

Thanks for your input. The storages require quite a low of power to keep the potatoes fresh. We intend to have enough panels on the roof to make sure that even on cloudy days our the storages stays cool. Having said this I realize that on sunny days we may indeed have a power surplus, perhaps the farmers can sell this, or use is to power something else. Well worth looking into!

Photo of Hifadhi Calm
Team

The concept of cold storage plus value addition is a plus in this idea. As this will provide incentive to farmers who have access to stable pricing due to economies of scale plus value added produce.

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Hello Hifadhi Calm 

Thanks for your comment, we do indeed try to make a whole lot more out of a storage than is currently done. We intend to aggregate the potato harvest of the farmers in the FBG. Next to storing this harvest in order to sell at a higher price when demand increases, this will allow farmers to increase their bargaining position towards exporters/traders/processors. The farmers becoming co-owners of the cold storage is the cherry on the cake :)

Photo of Tessel Peijnenburg
Team

This plan looks very promising! Just wondering: How will you go about ownership of the storage? Who will pay to build it?

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Hi Tessel Peijnenburg ,

Thanks for your input. To answer your first question: A group of farmers (we call this an FBG) will collectively invest in the cold storage. Instead of paying a steep fee to existing storage owners, they'll pay an annual rate that grants them buy in to, over time, fully own the cold storage facility with their FBG. 

Then second. Since the farmers cannot pay to full price for a storage to be build, we are currently looking into models on how to finance the storages in another way. Some technology (solar, cooling) supplier have shown interest as it might help to establish and grow their markets. Having said that, we firmly believe we can work out a business case that makes a solid return on investment, opening up opportunities for banks and investors. 

Photo of Benjamin van der Hilst
Team

Power to the potato farmers! I've seen first hand in Vietnam how important affordable cold storage can be for potato farmers. It can really bring subsistence farmers to thriving entrepreneurs. 

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Hi Benjamin !

Thanks for your comment. Happy to hear affordable cold storages are put in place in Vietnam. Any chance you might be able to put us in touch with storage owners or farmers in that region? We might be able to learn from their approach.

Photo of Nicolas Chevrollier
Team

top development for Bangladesh and applicable to many other sectors. 

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Thanks Nicolas 

We currently focusing on potatoes in Bangladesh, but do indeed see potential for other crops (onions have quite similar storage requirements) as well as other countries to scale up. 

Photo of Abishek
Team

Hello BoP Innovation Center! Great idea, look forward to see your plans on how to make this happen.

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Hi Abishek 

Thanks for your comment. If you have any ideas on how to turn our idea into a succes, let us know :)

Photo of Blake
Team

Yes indeed, congratulations.  It will be interesting to see how this idea evolves.

Photo of Auke Douma
Team

Hi Blake  

Thanks for your response. We're working hard to improve our plans, soon to upload some extra info. Do let us know if you're keen to find out more about are thoughts on improving potato cold storages in Bangladesh

Photo of Ruhul Amin
Team

Very happy for our potato farmers that we got the next round in the @IDEO challenge!!!  

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

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