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Matunda.Box: Source quality produce [banana] from farmers and supply to vendors through an innovative supply chain, logistics and m-commerce

Bridge gaps in food and market security to achieve an efficient, reliable, and fair market.

Photo of Ammar Abitalib Mussaji
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

KilimOrgano Limited

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

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?

Our banana farmers are located in the Kilimanjaro region (13,250 km2). Vendors are located in urban areas of Dar es salaam (1,393 km2).

What country is your selected Place located in?

United Republic of Tanzania

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

In East Africa, Tanzania produces 2.6 million tons of bananas per year, covering an area of 350,000 ha, and is the second largest banana producer in Africa after Uganda and seventh in the world. The banana industry in Tanzania is worth USD 886 million. Bananas have been categorized as dessert and cooking varieties. Cooking banana is one of the most important staple food and cash crops in East Africa. The per capita consumption of bananas in Tanzania is approximately 84 kg per annum and an average household of four purchases 40 kg of bananas per annum. The Kagera and Kilimanjaro regions in Tanzania supply an estimated 60 percent of annual banana production. About 60% of harvested bananas are consumed in the home as cooked or fresh (as dessert) with minimal processing. 

KilimOrgano’s banana tissue culture laboratory, greenhouses, cold storage facilities, and vendors are located in Dar es salaam city. The city is a main distribution center for fresh produce, with the country’s largest wholesale and retail markets of bananas. Mabibo is one of the wholesale markets in Dar es salaam, known as the “Courtyard of Bananas,” where the majority of bananas in Tanzania are sold.

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.

In the northern part of Tanzania, on the southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, live the Chagga people. Traditionally, the Chagga belonged to different clans ruled by mangis (chiefs). After Tanzania won its independence in 1961, the system of chiefdoms was abolished throughout the country.

The Chagga home gardens are found on Mt. Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania (2.9–3.3°S, 37.0–37.5°E). The bulk of the mountain covers about 3,100 km2 and the highest peak is 5,895 m above sea level. 

The Kilimanjaro region has a bimodal rainfall pattern: “short rains” from October to December and “long rains” from March to May. The average annual rainfall ranges from 1,000 to 1,700 mm, with marked variation depending on elevation, exposure, and aspect. Thus, Kilimanjaro gets more rainfall on its southeastern and eastern flanks (where the Chagga home gardens are) than on its northern and western sides, which are sheltered from the wet southeast winds. 

Mount Kilimanjaro has two peaks, Kibo and Mawenzi. Vegetation on the mountain is varied. The lowest plains form the bushland, where maize (corn), thatch grass, and fodder (miscellaneous plants to feed farm animals) are grown. Next is the coffee and banana belt. Each Chagga family has its own homestead in the middle of a banana grove, known as a “kihamba.”

The main language spoken by the Chagga people is Kichagga. It has various dialects spoken by Chagga in different regions. Almost all Chagga people also speak Kiswahili, the national language in Tanzania. Kiswahili is the language of instruction in primary schools and is used in the workplace. 

The traditional Chagga house was cone-shaped, with a roof thatched with dried grass. Another type of dwelling, also commonly built, was a house with a roof thatched with banana leaves. By the end of the nineteenth century, Swahili houses were introduced, initially constructed by chiefs. These houses were rectangular, with walls made of wattle (interwoven sticks) and mud, and thatched roofs. Today, these houses are more commonly built with cement walls and corrugated metal roofs.

The staple food of the Chagga people is bananas. Bananas are also used to make beer, their main beverage. The Chagga plant a variety of food crops including bananas, millet, maize (corn), beans, and cassava. They also keep cattle, goats, and sheep. Due to limited land holdings and grazing areas, most Chagga people today are forced to purchase meat from butcher shops.

Pregnant women eat a diet of milk, sweet potatoes, fat, yams, and butter, which are considered “female” foods. Bananas and beer are considered “male” foods and are not to be eaten by pregnant women.

Traditionally, Chagga work has centered on the farm and is divided by gender. Men’s work includes feeding goats, building and maintaining canals, preparing fields, slaughtering animals, and building houses. Women’s work includes firewood and water collection, fodder cutting, cooking, and cleaning the homestead and stalls. Women are also in charge of trading in the marketplace. The Chagga are known for their sense of enterprise and strong work ethic.

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.

Bananas in Tanzania are sold through an inefficient, informal network of brokers and middlemen that handle the crop in a rough manner and without considering perishability, which results in a high amount of waste and high prices for end-consumers.

In rural markets of the Kilimanjaro region, smallholder farmers sell their banana harvest to Agent 1 who purchases bunches based on his/her own subjective analysis, which in most cases is unfavorable to farmers. Agent 1 will load them in a truck in the evening for dispatch to wholesale markets in Dar es salaam region such as Mabibo. Trucks will enter the wholesale market starting at 0300 hours with a minimum of 70 tons per day. Agent 2, who resides in the wholesale market, is responsible for selling the banana bunches. Agents 1 and 2 work together to divide the profits of the entire banana consignment. Retailers arrive at the wholesale market by 0400 hours in order to purchase the best quality bananas that are on top of the trucks because bottom bunches are usually damaged by the heavy weight on top. Furthermore, banana fruit is highly perishable, leaving little time between harvest and onset of deterioration. This together with a relatively low value to bulk ratio has a major influence on the ease and cost of transportation. Throughout the supply chain, up to 40% of produce is lost due to lack of refrigerated trucks and cold storage. Within the supply chain, Agent 3 will buy approximately five banana bunches from Agent 2 and will sell it to retailers who fail to arrive early. In some cases, Agent 3 has established good relations with Agent 2 and reserves the best quality bananas before they even arrive in urban markets. Agent 4 is usually responsible for ripening bananas and sells them to retailers after purchasing them from Agent 2. These retailers comprise the majority of small-scale fresh produce street vendors (S3Vs) that supply more than 70% of the fresh produce, including bananas, to Dar es salaam region households. 

The challenges faced by S3Vs are as follows:

- Good quality produce is difficult to procure and usually demands a high price due to the practice of “first come–first served” and the system of “who you know.” Due to the involvement of many agents within the supply chain, Agent 3 or 4 reserves the best quality bananas before they arrive and then sells them at a higher price. 

- Inconvenience of procuring produce at odd times such as 0400 hours due to the highly subjective and time-consuming process of procurement. Moreover, the procurement activity results in health and security concerns for S3Vs.

- Price fluctuations: there is a major increase in banana prices during the off seasons as compared to the on season due to the low supply, since the majority (95%) of farmers depend on rainwater for irrigation. The shift in prices during off season results in a reduction of retail sales and most of the consumers’ diets switch to maize as a substitute.

- Transportation of bananas from the wholesale market is costly and a challenge for S3Vs because they have to leave their business to other staff or neighbors in order to procure the best quality bananas from the wholesale markets. 

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

Matunda.Box (owned by KilimOrgano) is the first fresh produce brand in Tanzania  to aggregate the demand for and supply of fresh produce, specifically bananas, onto a single technology platform while providing cold supply chain and logistical movement of bananas as a service. For farmers, including smallholders, KilimOrgano guarantees off-take of bananas through a buy-back agreement that provides better visibility of expected earnings prior to harvest. The company also micropropagates banana tissue culture plants from its modern tissue culture laboratory and offers technical field support to farmers at all levels. Retailers, specifically small-scale fresh produce street vendors (S3V) in urban areas of Dar es salaam region will be able to access a diversified product crate (different banana varieties and other demanded crops) and improved quality product that is conveniently delivered to their stalls using refrigerated trucks. By reducing food wastage, Matunda.Box helps lower food prices and improves food security. 

The procurement of bananas from farmers, post-harvesting practices, and logistics from farm to market will be done by KilimOrgano and Matunda.Box. Produce will be transported by refrigerated truck to the cold storage warehouses in Dar es salaam where the Matunda.Box warehouse team will manage stock and ensure a first in, first out mode of operation. Order and payment from S3Vs will be received via a mobile commerce system (phone application) and registered under the inventory system for preparation and dispatch. Matunda.Box drivers will deliver bananas in crates to S3V stalls and S3Vs can buy wholesale from the company’s cold storage warehouse in Mikocheni. The same technology will be implemented for other demanded Fast Moving Consumer Good (FMCG) crops including potatoes, tomatoes, and onions, provided to S3V.

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.

KilimOrgano conduct periodic workshops and demonstration visits to educate youth (fresh university graduates) and farmers, including smallholders, on good agricultural practices that will increase the yield and quality of banana in their plantations. Smallholder farmers are heavily burdened by disease challenges and KilimOrgano provides them with disease-free tissue culture plants, which will minimize disease pressure and, in some cases, totally eradicate the disease, and offer better-yielding and disease-resistant banana varieties to smallholder farmers under the guarantee of a buy-back. 

Matunda.Box cold storage warehouse and plant tissue culture laboratory provide employment and training to youth and, preferably, women due to their manual dexterity skills. Based on our training experience, women perform better than men at cutting and cleaning plants and following standard operating procedures. In our laboratory, 80% of the workers are women and the plan is to employ women in our cold storage facility, especially in order preparations and management.

Furthermore, by using a mobile commerce system, both smallholder farmers and S3Vs will have records of income and expenses, respectively. With a record of sales and expenses, farmers and S3Vs will be able to apply for finance from financial institutions for funding to expand their plantations and S3V businesses.

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

Matunda.Box vision is to bridge gaps in food and market security for farmers, vendors and consumers, in order to achieve an efficient, reliable and fair market. Our model is based on paying farmers fair and higher than rural brokers and to charge less and provide better quality bananas to retailers at their doorstep unlike what middlemen can offer.

Chagga farmers in Kilimanjaro are forced to destroy banana plantations due to high disease pressure, where consumption of bananas is part of their culture. This is due to consecutively growing the same planting materials for over 30 years. As a result, the majority of farmers have cleared plantation to grow maize, forcing them to move away from their cultural diets. In the worst case scenario, less bananas are harvested from backyard plantations, causing smallholder farmer families to have one meal a day. According to Chagga culture, growing or buying maize as a secondary crop in place of bananas is termed of low status. 

KilimOrgano has introduced better yielding and resistant varieties and educated farmers on good agricultural practices that have enabled them to plant modern varieties of bananas that are not affected by diseases. The solution has enabled smallholder farmers in the Kilimanjaro region to improve upon their income, nutrition and livelihood. Moreover, bananas pay 60% more per acre than farming maize. Higher yield per acre of bananas produced through planting KilimOrgano tissue culture plants and field technology has increased income for smallholder farmers. The Malindi 53 variety can be used for cooking and ripening, and smallholder farmers in Kilimanjaro use them for food at home and sell excess for income. Moreover, KilimOrgano encourages farmers to grow bananas under drip irrigation that allow them to harvest off season. This in turn will increase their income to up to 43% due to higher demand than supply. Drip irrigation technology will also increase farmers yield by a minimum of 30% and reduce water loss of up to 80%.

Matunda.Box enables smallholder farmers to access cold supply chain and logistics in order to reach out to vendors in urban areas. This prevents farmers from being exploited by middlemen and brokers who do not offer a fair and transparent price for the banana harvests. Due to their crops perishability and need for income, smallholder farmers have to sell bananas at low profits since they do not have the means to hire a truck to transport their produce to urban markets where customers are willing to pay higher prices. As a result of the established supply chain and logistics of Matunda.Box, vendors and urban consumers are guaranteed better quality and hygienic bananas. Moreover, vendors' health and security improve as they do not have to wake up at 0300 hrs to procure bananas, instead bananas get delivered at their stalls. 

The Government of Tanzania has removed VAT taxes on importation of cold storage units, as a result a minimum of 10,000 farmers and 4,000 vendors will benefit from this policy through the services of Matunda.Box. Government agriculture officers are also being trained on improved field practices in order to exponentiate the positive transformation within the Chagga community through the transfer of knowledge and practices needed to harvest high quality bananas.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Itika Gupta

Hi Ammar Abitalib Mussaji  Great to see you joining the Prize!

We noticed your submission is currently unpublished. Was this your intention? We'd love to have your submission included in the Prize. Even if you've not started populating your Vision just yet, by publishing your submission you can make it public for other teams in your region to see, get in touch and possibly even collaborate with you.

You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your Vision at any time before 31 January 2020 by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top. If you need inspiration or guidance, take a look at the Food Vision Prize Toolkit.
Here is the link to the Prize Toolkit:

Look forward to seeing your Vision evolve through the coming weeks.

Photo of Ammar Abitalib Mussaji

Thank you for the reminder. I have published the submission on time :)