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Leveraging technology to ensure fresh produce gets to the market at zero waste.

Eliminating food waste in East Africa with efficient food distribution systems while ensuring that smallholder farmers have a stable income

Photo of Elia Timotheo
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

East Africa Fruits Co.

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.

Local Partners Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA), a Non-Government Organization mainly supports by providing the company with training and linking up the company with other stakeholders who may wish to take stakes in the company. Claphijo Enterprise Ltd which was registered in 2002, pioneering in the dehydration of fruits and vegetables. Tanzania is blessed with fruits and vegetables for which most of the produce is sold in the markets in urban areas International stakeholders include organizations such as 1. Hugo Van De Voorde - is an investor and a strategic advisor to East Africa Fruits Co. 2. SEED 3. SANKALP (IMPACT INVESTMENT INTELLECAP NETWORK – I3N) 4. BID NETWORK 5. ACUMEN

Website of Legally Registered Entity

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

  • 3-10 years

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

Dar es Salaam.

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United Republic of Tanzania

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

East Africa Fruits Co's solution covers the united republic of Tanzania with approximately 945,087 km².

What country is your selected Place located in?

The United Republic of Tanzania

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

There is more than 48% produce waste in Tanzania, amounting to over 4.7 million tons of food, which would have otherwise been income to farmers. In addition to this, the existence of a long series of middlemen throughout the supply chain is a big challenge that smallholder farmers face. Usually, it takes two to three middlemen to take a kilo of produce to the market. This results in farmers getting less than 25% of the final price and the rest being distributed among middlemen with no value addition. This place was selected because Elia envisions to reduce food waste in Tanzania and Africa at large by enabling smallholder farmers with technology, resources, and market. This will significantly increase their income and ensure food security for the overgrowing population. Elia is connected to the problem because growing up in Tanzania, Elia Timotheo remembers his uncle, a banana farmer giving him a banana every day as he passed on his way home from school. Young Elia grew from a child to a teen, and into a young man. But one thing he could not understand was why his uncle, after years of selling bananas on the side of the road, had not been able to improve his economic status. This question propelled Elia to find answers: for his beloved uncle and for the countless other smallholder farmers like him in Tanzania. Elia found the answer in East Africa Fruits Co, which he founded in 2013.

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.

The Tanzania mainland is bounded by Uganda, Lake Victoria, and Kenya to the north, by the Indian Ocean to the east, by Mozambique, Lake Nyasa, Malawi, and Zambia to the south and southwest, and by Lake Tanganyika, Burundi, and Rwanda to the west. Mainland Tanzania can be divided into four principal climatic and topographic areas: the hot and humid coastal lowlands of the Indian Ocean shoreline, the hot and arid zone of the broad central plateau, the high inland mountain and lake region of the northern border, where Mount Kilimanjaro is situated, and the highlands of the northeast and southwest, the climates of which range from tropical to temperate. Tanzania’s warm equatorial climate is modified by variations in elevation. Forests grow in the highland areas where there are high levels of precipitation and no marked dry season. The western and southern plateaus are primarily miombo woodland, consisting of an open cover of trees, notably Brachystegia, Isoberlinia, Acacia, and Combretum. While each ethnic group speaks its own local language, almost all Tanzanians are also fluent in the national language, Swahili ( Kiswahili in Swahili), a coastal Bantu language strongly influenced by Arabic. The second official language is English, a vestige of the British colonial period. For most Tanzanians, including those who live in urban areas, no meal is complete without a preferred staple carbohydrate—corn, rice, cassava, sorghum, or plantains, for example. Plantains are preferred in the northwest, ugali (a thick mash of corn or sorghum) in the central and southwestern regions, and rice in the south and along the coast. The staple is accompanied by a fish, beef, goat, chicken, or mutton stew or fried pieces of meat, along with several types of vegetables or condiments, commonly including beans, leafy greens resembling spinach, manioc leaves, chunks of pumpkin, or sweet potatoes. Indian food (such as pancakes, a flatbread; samosas, vegetable or meat-filled pastries; and masala, a spiced rice dish), is widely available in all urban areas. Agriculture provides the mainstay of the Tanzanian economy, still employing close to four-fifths of the economically active population. Farmers grow food for subsistence and for sale. Minerals, precious metals, fish, timber, and meat are also important products. Agricultural and manufactured products are sold both retail and wholesale. The informal economy in Tanzania is significant, petty hawkers making up the bulk of traders. Second-hand clothing, household goods, cloth, and foodstuffs dominate the informal trade. Forced licensing and taxation of small-scale businesspeople have caused some friction between the government and citizens, leading on multiple occasions to demonstrations and local resistance.

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


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

With an urban population that is set to more than double by 2030, so will its food requirements. Many food security challenges exist, including weak rural-urban food supply linkages, an inadequate food budget and production constraints on the smallholder farming sector. Among the many challenges facing African cities today, is the need to ensure there is enough food to satisfy their rapidly growing populations. The SDG’s include targets related to food security (SDG 2) and making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (SDG 11). Even so, the distinct character of the urban food security challenge in relatively poor countries, such as Tanzania, may not be widely appreciated. As urban populations grow, under the influence of both natural population growth and in-migration, more people become permanent consumers. This means they become separated from the land and other traditional food sources. This renders them more reliant on urban markets for their food supplies, while their consumption patterns also change, particularly for those whose incomes rise. Current needs This indicates the scale of the urban food security challenge facing Tanzania in the medium term. The country, therefore, needs to determine how it will: Produce or procure a sufficient quantity of food Deliver food economically and in good condition to urban markets when required Ensure that the needs of marginalized urban populations can be met What’s more, the rural population of Tanzania will increase over the same period by 38%, eating into the local marketable surplus Like much of sub-Saharan Africa, Tanzania produces all kinds of food for local consumption as well as export. Yet here, in the part of the world that can arguably least afford to waste food, a good portion of these crops are lost. Much of the loss happens before the food can be eaten, during the so-called "post-harvest" phase between harvest and the point of sale or consumption. The problem is that the equipment and methods that many small-scale farmers use to process and store their crops are inadequate, so months after the harvest, tons of corn might be infested with insects or contaminated with toxic mold. More perishable crops like fruits and vegetables may become inedible in a matter of days. Long a neglected aspect of the agricultural system in developing countries, this waste stream of food is starting to attract attention from global agriculture organizations and financial institutions, offering hope that the losses can be reduced, and with the rates of rural hunger and malnutrition.

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

Our model is uniquely structured to maximize both farmers’ income and extend produce shelf-life. We provide a platform to smallholder farmers that connect them with buyers by establishing a demand and supply management system while taking advantage of technology in storage and distribution. We aggregate fresh produce from farmers, process and distribute to customers. A key part of managing demand and supply is using our mobile, desktop and web-based system that enables us to post pre-orders and quickly match them to produce aggregated by farmers for quick delivery of the same while ensuring markets for farmers. We also make use of cold chain logistics such as refrigerated trucks and cold storage facilities to increase produce shelf-life. We have established collection centers in areas with smallholder farmers to make the collection of produce more efficient and to maximize shelf-life of produce. This unique supply chain structure helps to cut middlemen out of the supply chain and pay farmers better prices while accessing extension services for good agriculture practices. The enterprise buys fresh fruits, vegetables and grains from smallholder farmers at fair prices and processes them by cleaning, sorting, packing, and branding. Farmers either work on their own land or participate in a small-scale franchise model, cultivating the enterprise’s ready-prepared land. Cold storage facilities, professional handling, and efficient distribution ensure a high quality of fresh produce. We introduce the cold value chain logistics in horticulture to reduce post-harvest losses and increase the quality and quantity of yield. Our irrigation systems and greenhouses reduce dependence on seasonal weather. Our innovation is centered on supporting smallholder farmers to earn better incomes through assisting them to adapt to climate change by reducing over-reliance on seasonal weather. This will bring along customer satisfaction through the reliability of the supply of fruits and vegetables. We will make use of renewable energy such as solar and diesel-powered cold facilities. The above makes us different from existing horticulture companies in Tanzania using cold chain logistics. Our fresh fruits and vegetables are well packed and labeled. We uphold our brand by producing the best quality and reliable fruits and vegetables all year round. They are delivered to wholesale customers transported in temperature-controlled trucks to increase their shelf life. Additionally, we work with farmers by improving the quality of their yield as well as their markets through the franchising strategy of our company. We also buy excess farmer produce from other smallholder farmers and store the same in good conditions, process and resell to customers. The supply of hygienic, good quality, packed and labeled fruits and vegetables will motivate customers to keep buying our products.

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.

The business is expecting to employ more than 213 workers by 2022, of which 87 will be full time and 126 will be part-time. Direct employment will be offered in the course of maintaining the farms, processing facility and conducting daily operations such as processing and supplying to customers. Indirect employment will be offered through purchasing fruits from small scale farmers’ in various regions. These fruits will be processed to add value and resale to the domestic and other commercial agencies. These regions include but are not limited to Morogoro, Iringa, Mbeya, Njombe, Tanga, Pwani and Kilimanjaro. Our business significantly reduces environmental pollution contributed by food waste. Annually, at least 1.2 million tons of food goes to waste and pollute cities, especially in market areas. By eliminating food waste using cold chain logistics, we change all that by avoiding unnecessary food waste while turning food which would otherwise go to waste into direct revenue for farmers. Our project will benefit farmers by increasing their incomes as explained above. We expect to increase their net incomes to US$ 2,900 per farmer (from US$ 640 a year in 2013) in the next 3 years whereby this will result from increased sales of their products to us and reduce costs such as transportation to markets and losses due to poor storage and bad weather. In addition to this, we are expecting to export fruits overseas. When the exportation of the agricultural product increases, cultivators earn more income. They will be in a position to purchase manufactured products and other inputs required in agriculture. The country benefits increased export index and stabilize our local currency. Many industries depend on agriculture, raw material from agriculture is supplied to many industries e.g. sugar industries, Juice Industries, Chilies, turmeric, etc. Many industries also supply inputs to the agricultural industry such as fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides.

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

East Africa fruits Co has covered the theme of prosperous future which promotes intergenerational equity and strengthen farmer’s policies and techniques in order to eradicate poverty and endeavor to find synergy between economic growth and environmental sustainability. East Africa fruits Co aims at reducing post-harvest loss in order to increase resource efficiency in consumption and production, promote food security and overall human well-being in both rural and urban spaces. Environment Our innovation eliminates Post-Harvest Losses which is one of the largest causes of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Tanzania and Sub Saharan Africa at Large. Our company combines Cold Chain Logistics and Industrial-scale solar drying to extend the shelf life of produce. We use Solar Satellite Collection Centers located in remote areas with high production to help farmers walk less hence deliver and sell their products with minimal losses. The clean and green ecosystem is one of our top priorities, to increase our long-term sustainability in the environment and that of the people we work with. With our model, we utilize 6 satellite collection centers with a capacity of 3MW each and trade over 180,000 tons of produce, hence reducing over 114 tCO2. This makes us the leading agricultural company in utilizing clean energy and conserving the environment in the country Diets Undernutrition remains one of Tanzania’s greatest human development challenges. Despite displaying a seemingly ‘low’ and ‘acceptable’ rates of acute malnutrition, the burden1 of undernourished children is one of the highest in the East African region. An estimated 450,000 children in Tanzania are acutely malnourished or wasted, with over 100,000 sufferings from the most severe form of acute malnutrition. Tanzania has one of the highest undernutrition burdens in East and Southern Africa, threatening not only individual lives but the next generation’s economic advancement in lost educational achievement, lost income, and lost opportunities. East Africa Fruits Co’s vision is to provide customer satisfaction by offering fresh fruits, rice and vegetables of the highest quality, impeccable services, guaranteeing accurate supply, fast delivery and developing strong partnership with farmers and our customers, promoting post-harvest technologies that will improve rural community incomes and join world’s efforts to fight against malnutrition in developing nations. Economics Tanzania is a low-income country in Eastern Africa with a population reaching nearly 56 million inhabitants. Agriculture remains a cornerstone of the economy, providing 31 percent to GDP and contributing 24.9 percent of annual export earnings, in particular through the main export crops cashew, tobacco, sugar, coffee, and cotton. Tanzania records a continuous agricultural sector growth and is considered largely self-sufficient in its main staple crop maize. Cassava, paddy, sorghum, and bananas are the second most widely grown staple crops by farmers. 68 percent of Tanzania’s workforce engaged in farming, both in rural and urban areas. However, 83 percent of all holdings are run by small family farmers who dominate the agricultural sector by contributing around 75 percent of the total agricultural output. Livestock and poultry play an important role in the economy of a Tanzanian small family farm; the second source of income An average small family farm in Tanzania generates a gross income of about USD 5 322 per year, whereby the majority is acquired through on-farm activities (56 percent), particularly through the growing and selling of crops (47 percent). This is always subjected to middlemen who really undermine farmers. Our project will benefit farmers by increasing their incomes as explained above. We expect to increase their net incomes to US$ 2,900 per farmer (from US$ 640 a year in 2013) in the next 3 years whereby this will result from increased sales of their products to us and reduce costs such as transportation to markets and losses due to poor storage and bad weather. Technology Our enterprise uses data to design an efficient distribution network that helps to extend the shelf life of produce. This is made possible using our mobile-based, web and desktop system that enables us to capture real-time orders from customers and quickly match the same to supply from the smallholder farmers hence ease the aggregation, processing, and distribution to customers

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Photo of alexander valeton

Hi Elia Timotheo , nice plans. please check    and see how we can be working together. the goal is the same, the methods might be different but helpful to each other. Good luck; Alexander

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