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Connecting the dots: An enabling logistics base layer for increasing accessibility & competitiveness of 3 Mill+ farming families in Punjab.

An accessible future for the millions of farming families of rural Punjab through the use of Intelligent Vehicular Capacity Sharing Platform

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Lead Applicant Organization Name

RASAI Technologies (Smc-Pvt) Ltd.

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

We have been supported by United Nations Environment Program as the winners of the Global Low Carbon Life Style Challenge for this Project and by United States Agency for International Development for developing the vision further. Current Supporters include the National Incubation Center at Islamabad, and National Logistics Cell, Pakistan.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.rasai.pk/Omandi

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Islamabad, Pakistan.

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Pakistan.

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Northern Punjab, Area of around 70,000 km sq with urban centers such as Lahore, Gujranwala, Sialkot and Faisalabad.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Pakistan.

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

The selected area is the bread basket of the region with highly fertile plains, the area includes my ancestral village, wazirabad where I have 8 hectares of native family land.
I visit the area often as I am also responsible for upkeep with the tenants of the land. Over the years it has became apparent that how disadvantaged the small farm holders are in the region due to the great difficulty in access to markets, with the yearly rent less than $200 a hectare per annum, and those working on the land stuck in a cycle of poverty.
Accessibility was key thus I decided to work on solving these issues through my company RASAI (Meaning "Accessibility") to solve these issues one by one, layer upon layer.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

As can be seen from the image, Punjab consists of some of the most fertile lands in the world with five rivers flowing from the Himalayas irrigating the land, the area is also one of the most densely populated areas of the world, with small villages dotted across the region, growing staple crops,vegetables and fruits,as the climate is agriculture friendly.  
The average farm size is 5.6 acres, these small farm holders find it increasingly difficult to compete with larger landholders especially due to lack of affordable logistics/transport, options for their produce, access to capital and markets thus are often left with no option then to sell their land and move to overly stressed cities in search for work.
The people are very simple,hospitable and loving, they have been ingrained with the same lifestyle and especially farming practices for decades, with one resounding difference in everyday life, the advent of mobile phones and 3G internet present with ubiquitous coverage over all the population in this area.The internet connectivity is present even in the rural areas that account for 64% of the total population around 30 million in the 70,000 sqkms.
There is a predominant reliance on agriculture in the region and lack of many basic facilities such as public transport, schools and hospitals, though roads are present connecting much on the villages with each other.
The people have similar hope and aspirations to anyone living in such circumstances a hope for a better and prosperous life. Due to Lack of availability of resources and capital the farming is done in unhealthy fashion with high dependence on chemicals to get the required yield and razor thin margins due to involvement of many middlemen and loan sharks often forcing corner cutting in terms of keeping the food healthy and the overall sustainability of the environment, eutrophication is quite common in the region, as well and there is lack of sustainable practices such as bio gas generation or crop stubble management due to lack of a supporting ecosystem.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

70000

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

30000000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

The region though being blessed with highly productive and fertile land lacks adequate means of affordable accessibility thus limiting the competitiveness of the farmers especially at the small scale, the lack of affordable access to market and required inputs puts intense strain on the farmer, by 2050 the regions population is expected to grow at annual rate of 2%, Due inefficient connection with resources and markets there is bleak hope the millions of farming families unless a disruption is able to change the circumstances.

Environment:

Trucks are responsible for moving the produce at the moment that are highly polluting and often have spare space or are returning empty due to the lack of a centralized optimized load board. 

The inefficiencies and gaps in the logistics chain is responsible for upto 15 millions tons of food being wasted in the region, producing 37.5 Million tons of Co2 equivalent GHGs.

Diets:

Razor thin margins for the farmers and lack of access to affordable inputs often means that they have to rely on chemical extensive method of farming. 

Economics: 

A weak logistics infrastructure means that the cost impact is transferred throughout the value chain resulting in lack of affordability for the masses. The lack of access to resources and market has kept the overwhelming majority of the 3+ Million farming families stuck in abject poverty, by 2050 through infusion of tech enabled platforms and marketplaces, we hope for the same people to be able to afford a life of comfort and prosperity. 

Culture:

The solution would help empower those most marginalized, and help people improve their quality of life without having to leave their families and  native lands and also help rebuild sense of sharing and communal living.

Technology:
The technology for enabling the vision is present at the moment and the massive amount of useful data generated would help form a base layer on which many more innovations can take place, It will act as a sand box for the implementation of AI and Blockchain technologies.

Policy:
The vision is destined to bring power to the people by adoption of a transparent and enabling food system through the use of technology for food system, the same type of democratization could be used for governance and policy drafting.

Additionally with the help of transparent and useful data, supportive decisions could be taken instead of authoritative type of policies that are implemented at the moment without input from the stakeholder.  


Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Having an integrated logistics base layer that could be accessed from a simple smart phone could have a life changing effect on the million of farmers and improve the economy and efficiency of the region thus lifting millions out of poverty as an ecosystem could develop on top of the base layer allowing for innovation and multiple business models to develop that weren't possible before, imagine a small household farmer requires some organic fertilizer and nearby there is a dairy farm that has excess manure available both the parties could use the platform to register there demand and supply accordingly the enabled vehicles could spot this as a opportunity or the buyer could directly initiate a route and have vehicles bid on the request.

The process that currently has to go through at least four separate stages and people each adding an overhead and time could be simplified to a few taps on the app.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

With accessibility and transparency comes efficiency and innovation, as the democratization of the value chain enables a change that has profound effect on the overall region. When a small scale farmer is able to access markets previously unavailable to him and easily send the produce at an affordable price.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

The Vision is based around the core tenet of affordable accessibility for the people of Punjab. By connecting more than 8000 villages as a part of an intelligent network that could be accessed through a simple to use smartphone app in which resources could be traded efficiently by utilizing vehicles the spare capacity of vehicles that are own their way and forming optimized routes so that multiple small farmer orders could be clubbed together in order to give them affordable accessibility to markets.

The logistics layer would serve as an enabling base layer on which further innovations and business model could be established, for example the layer could act as an Geo spatial marketplace for sourcing of material and finding new markets. For example sourcing of organic inputs(such as manure) for farms could be made easier and more affordable then ever before. 

The vehicles operating on the platform would become entrepreneurs themselves by having easy view of the demand and supply through the app, they could connect and source resources playing the two in one role of the middleman and transporter. 

Environment:

Through better utilization vehicular capacity less Co2 emission would be emitted. Trucking especially in the developing countries like Pakistan is highly inefficient

The food products are often ripe for picking at different stages but the small loads are not cost-effective to send to the market so are commonly wasted. Many Natur

The disassociation from the full value chain results in losses of produce and in ability of by products to be fully utilized such as crop stubble and food waste.


Diets:The produce having to wait for through the supply chain require use of preservative, the disassociation of the buyer from the grower also has adverse effect on the practice of growing, the organic farmers due to additional cost of logistics can not compete with the industrialized farming practices that use intense amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. thus the small often healthier producer is going out of business, changing the overall percentage of unhealthier products available in the market.

Economics: An efficient transportation infrastructure forms the backbone of a strong economy but due to the inefficiencies of the fragmented system, the additional costs of transport are spread throughout the value chain having an immense effect of the purchasing power of the end consumer. Due to lack of an efficient mechanism those associated with transportation sector are wasting immense amount of fuel and money moving around empty space, that could be utilized.

Culture: A culture of hopelessness that was present in the rural areas due to lack of opportunities would be reversed. The notion that only cities provide opportunity would be challenged and a sense of easier means accessibility to resources and markets would mean that people focus on where they are living rather than thinking about moving to the cities or abroad.

Lack of sharing resources results in an overall aspect of hording of resources with very little utilization. A sharing economy model is absent in the region and this translates into all aspects of life such as caring for communal lands and services, if the vision is realized it would allow for people to have reinvigorated communal spirit and have more disposable income to allow for innovation and experimentation. 

Technology: Though the required technology is present at the moment to enable the first steps of the system upon which layer upon layer of innovations and business models cane be made such as Data Analyses 

Policy: The democratization and transparency of such a solution in which live demands can be seen avoids problem such as hording and selling in black. A mind set shift is made possible as communities get a chance to play an active part in shaping of the supply chain, the most disadvantaged shall be given an equalizing opportunity through the access provided to markets and resources equally.  

The transformative potential of the system is immense as it allows for the community to themselves be able to lead the change through empowerment that they shall drive through their own resources being used more efficiently through tech infusion and more importantly providing the base layer for more innovations and business model to be implemented analogous to how the internet has enabled so much innovation, by connecting these villages together as a part of a smart network a physical internet could be established, benefiting the small organic farmer and making them competitive and help avoid there extinction.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Email
  • Prize partners

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