Food is one of the basic human needs. A balanced diet do not only serve as food but also as a medicine to many human diseases including the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World is undoubtedly going to be faced with hunger and starvation during and even after the COVID-19 pandemic simply because many rich people are being locked down with their monies in urban areas while many land owners are free but struggling to capitalize their farming activities in order to feed the world and improve their lives.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that about 815 million people of the 7.6 billion people in the world, or 10.7%, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2016. Almost all the hungry people live in lower-middle-income countries.
According to the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP), the number of people facing acute food insecurity could nearly double this year to 265 million due to the economic fallout of COVID-19.
In response to the COVID-19 calamity, Afrosoft Limited is now developing a website and mobile app platforms that will bring together people with willingness and ability to venture into agribusiness particularly food production, and specifically vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, dairy and fatty foods as pictured in the project focus below;
Our solution, a Farming Partnership Program goes with the coined Swahili name LimaNaMi (Lima na Mimi) which means Farm with Me in English language.
The solution combines online and physical interaction between project stakeholders. The LimaNaMi virtual platforms will be officially launched within 3 months to enable investors create their user accounts, meet invest-mates, market and sell their food products with the help of internet and sometimes through USSD mobile platforms. Serious coding for the online platforms is ongoing with registration of investors to soon start taking place through the link - http://afrosoft.co.tz/limanami/register.php
Land owners will register their farms in terms of size and farming suitability as recommended by local extension officers to grab capital investors' interests.
Investors' confidential information including names and contacts may not be made public but accessible to invest-mates after signing the partnership contracts after Afrosoft has completed an Investor Authenticity Screening. Afrosoft Limited will be receiving opinions from investors and progress reports from extension officers and will be making planned physical project visits in the presence of all investment partners.
The partnerships will primarily focus on rural-urban joint ventures but also allow rural-rural investors. Why rural-rural joint ventures? In Tanzania, some farmers in rural areas have already fully utilized their farms by growing cash crops like coffee, cotton, tea, cashew nuts, tobacco, cloves and sisal and even food crops from which they have raised capital and now interested to invest in large scale food production due to the COVID-19 crisis. And this is because food business will never be shut down during and after the pandemic in question. For example, in our neighbor countries like Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya where people have already been quarantined for about a month now, food markets are still and will remain open regardless the situation.
LimaNaMi will also establish food crop storage points, to serve the immediate and future food market needs and will cover the full food supply chain to make sure that even rural farmers feel the taste of the final market price of their produce paid by local urban and international end users. LimaNaMi will thus be but a farmer's liberation tool.
Feasibility of LimaNaMi in Tanzania
- Arable Land - According to studies, Tanzania has over 44 million hectares of arable land with only 33 per cent of it being cultivated, as far as of 2016. Similarly, many African countries have big lands which are not yet utilized making millions of people in the World particularly Africans to suffer from hunger and starvation without good reasons. I personally know 5 people who are unable to finance farming on many acres of their virgin lands while possibly many others looking for farms to buy. You don't necessarily need to buy a farm, but instead partnering with land owners.
- ICT and Food Expertise - Our young company, Afrosoft Limited is well placed in developing websites and mobile applications. The programming is lead by Mahad Rwebangira, our Director of Technology who is a Telecom Engineer and Software Developer. We have developed various web and mobile systems including our company website. Our young brother Aidid Matsawili is a Food Technologist from the Sokoine University of Agriculture and is readily available for supporting our food processing ideas.
- Smart Devices and Internet - According to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), Internet penetration in Tanzania reached 43 per cent in 2018, with 48.77 per cent of the mobile phone subscribers being using internet. In addition, out of 43.62 million mobile subscribers at least 23.14 million were internet users. However, at least 22.28 million internet users were using mobile wireless while 43.49 subscribers used mobile phones, according to a fourth quarterly communication statistics. On a related note, smart phones and internet bundles are becoming cheaper in Tanzania due to market competition among service providers. For example, I do enjoy a Vodacom monthly internet bundle of 20GB at only TZS 20k. And yet there are many other cheapest internet bundles from the same provider and others like Tigo, Airtel, Zantel and Halotel.
- Agricultural Extension Services - In Tanzania, almost every village has an agricultural extension officer and for the villages with no such officers, the officers at their ward level always serve the purpose. An effective use of Rural Agricultural Extension Officers will also be part of this solution and hence connected on this forum as project consultants.
- Project Sustainability - The rural part (land owner and Extension Officers) will be mainly responsible for production (supply side) while the urban part (Capital Owners and Afrosoft Limited) will be responsible for managing markets (demand side). Afrosoft Limited will consider establishing LimaNaMi offices at regional and district levels where there will be many LimaNaMi projects for close M&E.
- Stakeholders' Interests - Legal Partnership Contracts will be signed and witnessed by local government officials to protect the interests of project stakeholders. Furthermore, farming insurances will be taken into consideration when deems necessary. The contracts will not be perpetual, instead for a period 1 - 5 years renewable upon both parties agreement.
- Government Policies - Agricultural sector is regarded as a Tanzanian economy's back born, and the so government has always been implementing various friendly policies to encourage people invest in the sector.
- Working During COVID-19 - In Tanzania, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic the country is still operating compared to other East African countries where people are in lock-down. So, Tanzania is still best positioned to use this challenge as an opportunity to feed its neighbors during and after the COVID-19 crisis. Fortunately, Tanzania is endowed with plenty of arable land on its rural areas where it is even safer to work during COVID-19. Therefore, many Tanzanians can stay safe in farms, while feeding the World during and after the COVID-19.
- Scaling-up the Solution - At a later stage, rich people from developed countries will be connected with local land owners in developing countries to do the same for targeting foreign markets. At that stage, the Tanzanian government investment procedures will be followed and be advocated by Afrosoft Limited. Afrosoft will also liaison with central and local government to provide big farms to foreign investors. Afrosoft Limited will also extend the LimaNaMi program to cover all African countries through partnering with local companies in each country with enough arable land. Studies show that, Africa is a future feed-basket of the world.
For each LimaNaMi project, capital investors and land owners will equally take 40 per cent of profit each, while Afrosoft Limited will share the remaining 20 per cent of profit for its roles of;
- Developing and maintaining the LimaNaMi online platforms
- Following up on the legal issues regarding farming partnerships
- Making sure that the business is undertaken at a win-win for both parties
- Liaison with Agricultural Extension Officers and other government officials
- Conducting food farming and market research to inform investors
As the business grows in terms of the number of LimaNaMi projects (i.e. beyond 1,000 projects), Afrosoft Limited will consider reducing its profit share to only 10 per cent making capital owners and land owners to enjoy 45 per cent of their project profits. However, at that stage Afrosoft Limited will now start to run local and international agricultural related business advertisements particularly agricultural equipment and other input supplies on the LimaNaMi online platforms. Again, agricultural inputs suppliers will also be invited to join the food production partnership. For example, liaison with EFTA Ltd (https://www.efta.co.tz/ ) - an agricultural equipment loan company will be considered at that stage to enable farming LimaNaMi investors easily scale up their projects.
It is our expectation that, LimaNaMi will go viral soon after its launch, as we are already connected to different Farmers Groups in Social media with thousands of members. And we will code it simple, attractive, responsive and user friendly.
Current Investment Opportunities with Afrosoft Limited
Since charity starts at home, Afrosoft Limited has more than three investment opportunities at a glance just waiting for capital investors;
1. 4G Agribusiness Opportunity
This is an integrated 4 in 1 dependent projects for lowering production costs while increasing profits on both projects. It includes; Sunflower Farming, Bee Keeping, Fish Farming, and Poultry Farming. 4G stands for Four Gears.
Afrosoft Limited has already reserved 15 acres of arable land in Tanzania, Kagera region, Misenyi district, Nsunga village on which investors (not more than 10) are invited to visit and invest in a 4G Agribusiness project as soon as possible. The project will later grow into a 5G Agribusiness to include an Oil Pressing Industry that will drive the sunflower, poultry and fishing sector.
2. Banana Flour Processing Opportunity
In Kagera region, where Afrosoft Limited is based, there is already a potential opportunity for processing green banana flour for packaging and selling in local and foreign markets. This is because all banana growing districts in Kagera - Bukoba, Muleba, Karagwe, Kyelwa and Misenyi district councils are still witnessing abundant supply of green banana since last year due to heavy rains in the past two seasons. Traditionally, most of the Kagera residents prefer eating banana over anything else.
If some of the recent abundant green bananas won't be processed into flour and stored for the future or transported to areas where there is food shortage, there might be food scarcity in some places while some banana farmers are now forcibly earning less and even leaving some banana to go ripe and rotten.
Kagera region is endowed with more than 10 green native banana varieties which have delicious taste, apart from those bananas eaten ripe or for making drinks. And yet have commercial banana plantains which where adapted from Belgium.
However, you will be surprised to hear that there is no even a single banana flour processing plant in Kagera region. Maybe because they abundant fresh green banana, and hence no demand for storing for the future. Contrary, with COVID-19 banana flour is ideal for storage, optimum utilization, and for easy transportation (local and exports).
Green bananas are now sold at the cheapest rates ever, for example a banana bunch which was usually sold at around TZS 30,000 ($12.96) is now sold at not more than TZS 10,000 ($4.32) at retail price.
These bananas are usually transported from rural areas and brought into urban markets where banana are highly demanded and preferred especially in Bukoba, but things may change in the near future because farmers are not earning relatively enough money to re-invest in banana farming.
Afrosoft Limited is now looking for local or foreign partners to grab this golden opportunity by doing the following;
- Raise funds for purchasing green banana in bulk (needs about $2.5k)
- Installing a green banana processing plant (needs about $5k)
- Setting-up a solar drying system (needs about $2k)
- Financing other operation costs for the first three months (needs about $3k)
Available Project Resources:
- 2 acres industrial land with access to road and electricity for accommodating banana collection, peeling, and setting-up a banana flour processing plant.
- Hundreds of experienced women in manual banana peeling are readily available to be employed on demand and yet at affordable local rates. In Nyakibimbili, my home village, where this project will take place, a woman can peel 100kg of green banana in an hour by using a bamboo knife (locally known as oluwaaso).
- Potential market for banana wastes - animal feeds, organic manures, and can later be used to generate bio-gas, and other bio-products.
Opinions from banana soup consumers - After graduating his Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Technology at the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), my young brother Aidid Matsawili conducted a market research with banana soup (known as mtori in swahili) consumers in Morogoro and Dar es salaam and found that many of them preferred Bukoba Banana Soup over the Kilimanjaro banana plantains'. The difference between the two is mainly differed taste and that Bukoba banana are soft while those from Kilimajaro are relatively hard. However, mtori is commonly found in Kilimanjaro plantains though not direct from flour but cooked fresh then blended whole bananas.
Apart from banana soup, green banana are sometimes cooked fresh and then blended especially in Kagera region and Uganda as seen in the following photo;
Like the meal? This opportunity needs a total of about $12.5k to start and run. Banana flour can be packed and sold to households, restaurants, hotels and events locally and abroad. Besides, many farmers are looking for banana wastes to feed their animals.
A similar food processing idea can be learned from the other Tanzanian lake zone regions like Mwanza, Shinyanga, Simiyu, Geita and Tabora where people grow sweet potatoes in large quantities and then dry them upon harvest for future use. Unfortunately, these regions do not potentially grow banana. Instead they depend on banana grown in Kagera, and some parts of Kilimanjaro, Mbeya,and Mara regions.
3. Fruits For Free Project - The Giving Opportunity
Money is not everything we need as human beings as Afrosoft Limited. Thus, apart from business projects, we have reserved 1 acre for planting charity fruits. And this has been our living dream, as we wish to serve everyone including those with no penny but yet deserves life.
The purpose of this project is to extend our humanity to the following groups;
- Prisoners, and
This charity farm will be sustained by selling only 30 per cent and giving for free the remaining 70 per cent of its annual yields, and will contain the following fruits;
- Sour-sop fruits, and
- Passion fruits
We encourage everyone with land to adapt this giving spirit. With us, this charity project only needs about $2.5k to be launched and sustained for more than 20 years. After launching the project, passion fruits are expected to start giving fruits in 8 months followed by pineapples while most of the fruits will start coming out after 3 years.
Our fruits charity project will create a mobile app (named Fruits For Free) for receiving free fruit orders from poor families, orphanage centers, prisons, hospitals, and schools. Having succeeded at our farm, Afrosoft Limited will pioneer the Fruits For Free campaigns throughout Tanzania for the target groups above even by just planting fruit trees along the road to also mitigate automobile air pollution.
Last but not least, behind the Fruits For Free project, we are inspired by an authentic Islamic hadith narrated by Anas bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) from Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) that;
“There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but is regarded as a charitable gift for him.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Book of Agriculture)