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savfood a food waste revolution

Empowering small scale farmers & nutrition for low income families

Photo of Sarah Ashraf
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Lead Applicant Organization Name


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.

No, we are not a multi-stakeholder entity

Website of Legally Registered Entity

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

  • Under 1 year

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

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

The Netherlands

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

Sindh, Pakistan

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

I was born & brought up in Karachi, the capital of the province of Sindh. My family & friends are also based in Karachi. Having lived a big part of my life in Karachi I have a deep & sentimental attachment to the city as well as the province. My team members are also born & brought up in the city & have worked with marginalized rural communities in the Sindh province. We have worked with communities affected by floods as well as the drought-stricken people in the Thar region. The feeling of having made a difference in the lives of people & as well as their happiness is the motivation that keeps us striving for more & better ways to help the people. I also feel very strongly about Sindh lagging behind the national average in the numerous socio-economic development indicators especially nutrition & health despite being the second largest province of Pakistan. 

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.

Sindh is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, in the southeast of the country, and the historical home of the Sindhi people. Sindh also borders the Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan to the east and the Arabian Sea to the south. Sindh's landscape consists mostly of alluvial plains flanking the Indus River, the Thar desert in the eastern portion of the province closest to the border with India, and the Kirthar Mountains in the western part of Sindh.

Sindh lies in a tropical to subtropical region; it is hot in the summer and mild to warm in winter. Temperatures frequently rise above 46 °C (115 °F) between May and August, and the minimum average temperature of 2 °C (36 °F) occurs during December and January in the northern and higher elevated regions. The annual rainfall averages about seven inches, falling mainly during July and August. The southwest monsoon wind begins in mid-February and continues until the end of September, whereas the cool northerly wind blows during the winter months from October to January.

Sindh has Pakistan's second-largest economy, while its provincial capital Karachi is Pakistan's largest city and financial hub, and hosts the headquarters of several multinational banks. Sindh is home to a large portion of Pakistan's industrial sector and contains two of Pakistan's commercial seaports, Port Bin Qasim and the Karachi Port. The remainder of Sindh has an agriculture-based economy and produces fruit, food consumer items, and vegetables for the consumption of other parts of the country. Agriculture is very important in Sindh with cotton, rice, wheat, sugar cane, dates, bananas, and mangoes as the most important crops. 

Sindh also has an almost equal urban-rural divide with an urban population at 52.02% and the rural population at 47.98% wealth inequality is stark with urban Sindh being one of the most prosperous regions in Pakistan to rural Sindh being one of the most impoverished regions. this is due to the fact that Karachi is the financial hub of the province while the rest of the province is dependent on agriculture with outdated technology and unequal land distribution marred with poverty. 

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


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.

About 30-35 percent of Sindh’s population lives below the poverty line. Most poor have a smallholding with limited access to water. The poor are heavily dependent on local employment opportunities – e.g. during land preparation, sowing or harvesting; off-farm activities such as processing; or services such as trade and transport. Other groups among whom poverty is high are the nomadic or semi-nomadic populations who graze their livestock – mainly sheep and goats, in the arid areas or on crop residues after harvest; and the small-scale artisanal fishers who operate in the coastal water. Women play a major role in Sindh’s agriculture. A number of tasks, such as weeding, livestock rearing, and local food processing and conservation, are now mainly done by women. This is in addition to their routine chores, which include fetching water for household use, sometimes from long distances. One of the most onerous tasks done by women in Sindh is cotton picking, where hard physical effort is combined with long hours and unhealthy working conditions mainly associated with the pesticide residues on cotton. There is a heavy burden of malnutrition in Sindh. Government of Pakistan’s last National Nutrition Survey (NNS) conducted in 2011 found that in Sindh province, over 45 percent of children under five years of age were stunted (low height for age), 41 percent underweight & 18 percent wasted (low weight for height). Malnutrition also has a significant presence in women of childbearing age. Micronutrient deficiencies exact a toll on agricultural workers’ health and productivity, with Vitamin A, Iron, and Zinc deficiencies being the ones of highest concern.

About 40% percent of the agricultural produce, which is worth about USD 4-5 billion, is wasted due to inadequate storage facilities. The lack of new technologies in the logistical and storage sector results in this large loss of perishable produce. If there are ways to save this perishable produce from going to absolute waste and the small scale farmers generate some business from this, then this will not only help the farmers economically, it will also save the valuable resources in an already impoverished country. At present, there are hardly any projects that work to empower small scale farmers. The current subsidies and investment projects benefit large landowners. This has worsened the inequality in the agriculture sector. The large landowners often disregard small scale farmers and competition by volume force small farmers to compete at prices that are often unreasonable and leaves them with less subsistence to support their families. 

In the future, Sindh has the challenges of water scarcity, feeding a growing population, lack of basic technical knowledge regarding farming practices. If not addressed the current problems can be of a huge magnitude & affect the already vulnerable rural populations threatened by climate change, malnutrition & lack of technology. 

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

We aim to reduce the losses & wastage of fresh produce as well as other precious resources by empowering farmers to save their excess produce & earn more income through value-added products as well as providing nutritious meals to low-income families currently affected by malnutrition & hunger. We believe that if we save the fresh produce that is currently being wasted we can impact the lives of many people living in food insecurity. By training farmers on the simple techniques of solar dehydration & food processing enabling them to get a good price for their produce by adding value as well as saving food for their families & their community. 

Our intended audiences are the small scale farmers who are exploited by the large landowners and middlemen due to lack of access to market and innovative agriculture practices. Small to midsize farmers are forced to sell their produce for nominal prices especially during peak harvest months when there is a glut. Since they have no way of storing their fresh produce or add value to the fresh produce they are exploited by the middlemen who get the lion’s share of the profit. Our proposed intervention maximizes the use of solar technology, which is non-capital intensive and does not require electricity or gas and has a high degree of replication and accessibility. Although dehydrating is an energy-intensive process among all renewable energy sources, solar radiation is in abundance, freely available, widely distributed and can easily be converted into other forms of energy. The number of sunny days in Pakistan are 250 in the Northern region to above 300 days in most part of the rest of the country.

Nutrition is a big challenge. According to the survey results: ‘Malnutrition in Sindh is a silent catastrophe affecting nearly half its children and mothers’. According to the National Nutrition Survey (NNS 2011), the malnutrition levels across Sindh are above the cut-off for a serious public health problem [wasting = 17.5%, and stunting = 49.8%].     

Besides this, more than 70 percent of mothers in Sindh are Vitamin D deficient. These problems of poor nutrition are compounded by severe food insecurity and poor food intake, particularly by women, girls, and children less than 5 years of age. It is now clearer than ever that under-nutrition in the critical 1000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday robs children of future income and opportunity. It perpetuates the cycle of poverty and inequality. Therefore, under-nutrition, in all its forms, poses a serious threat to the future human resource, thus, directly hampering the economic development of the country. 

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.

If we are able to save the fresh produce currently being wasted we will not only be helping farmers to save their produce as well as earn more income but also helping people fight malnutrition & food insecurity. We envision a Sindh in which there is reduced malnutrition & zero wastage of fresh produce saving precious resources as well as increasing income for the farmers. 

Our main product of work is to train farmers on the low-cost dehydration units and developing a manual compiled with the help of experts on the appropriate techniques for dehydration of perishable produce in the local languages – Urdu and Sindhi. Farmers will be trained in food sanitation & hygiene, food processing, and basic business management. Low-cost dehydration units will be available on easy monthly installments to the farmers. In addition to that, linkages will be created with food processing industry businesses buying dehydrated products who can then buy directly from the farmers. At the moment most of the demand for dehydrated products such as vegetable flakes, onion & garlic powder, and potato starch are imported. There is a huge demand for dehydrated fruits and vegetables both locally and globally. Dehydrated produce also sells for 3 times the price of fresh produce, thus it will not only save the excess produce but also contribute significantly to the farmer's income. The project will help local farmers defend themselves against exploitation by middlemen and generate more income for their families. 

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

We want to make food accessible to everyone as well as nutritious. We are developing unique formulations that will double as ready to cook food as well as a nutritional supplement. We are targeting the micronutrient deficiencies most common in Sindh such as Vitamin A, iron, iodine & vitamin D. We have developed an oatmeal-based meal supplement that has sweet potatoes, mushrooms, apricots & pumpkin seeds. However, we need to make the formulation more suited to local tastes. We want to make curry powders with dried & powdered vegetables that are ready to be cooked by adding water. They can be eaten with rice or local bread (roti). We plan to make them more palatable by including spices & flavors that are local to the people & don’t feel like supplements but food to the people. We are also looking to incorporate fruit & vegetable skins, rinds, & leafy greens such as beet greens which are highly nutritious but are not seen as a primary food source. We want to be able to incorporate scraps & skins into the food formulations which will enable us to use every part of the fresh produce as well as provide nutrition to the local populations. 

Farmers are now able to save their crops instead of selling them at nominal prices or wasting them by insufficient storage. We have now fostered the culture of using every usable part of the fresh produce that was previously not seen as a food source. This, in turn, has helped the families of the farmers as well as their communities to fight food insecurity & malnutrition. We envision a food secure & healthy Sindh in 2050 where malnutrition & hunger is reduced by at least 50% & brought to the level of the national average instead of being the highest in the country. 

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Facebook

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Ekaterina Egorova

Hi Sarah Ashraf 

Welcome to the Food Vision Prize community!

For the last hours before the deadline, make sure you have reviewed your final submission through the Pocket Guide to support you through the final hours of wrapping up your submission. This will give you the most important bullet points to keep in mind to successfully submit your Vision.
Here is the link to the pocket guide: