Phase I (6 Months): Avocado Value Addition (Avocado Oil). WOVAKEDO’s current proof of concept is up and running, as we are building avocado oil production capacity, with 100% of inputs sourced from a network of 2,000+ smallholder farmers. Avocado oil, which is rich in vitamins and used in both cooking and cosmetics, is stable enough to be transported without spoiling; as such, it provides the opportunity for cash flows, employment, and avocado sector development while an efficient logistics network is built to support fresh exports in the Phase III. We currently have an avocado oil cold press machine capable of producing 300 gallons per day with a local market value exceeding $1,000/day. The pulp/residue after extraction is then converted into animal feed and farm manure and sold as its own commodity for more monetary gain by the participating youth.
Phase II (24 Months) Avocado Oil Capacity Expansion and Avocado Supply Development: During Phase II, WOVAKEDO will scale and expand its smallholder farmer/outgrower network and avocado production centers to other regions in Uganda. Youths will serve critical roles, including delivery of avocado grafts to new growers, providing pruning services, managing collection centers, transporting goods, overseeing new regions, sorting and grading fruits, packaging, marketing and selling. During this phase, youths will also be instrumental in recruiting new growers to support future fresh exports.
Phase III: (24 Months) Transition to Fresh Avocado Exports. Connecting smallholder farmers to export markets for fresh avocados, with the support systems of a youth-dominated supply chain, will be maximize returns at all levels of the value chain.
Avocado Market Trends. Worldwide demand for avocado and avocado oil is skyrocketing, yet supply is constrained. The global avocado trade in 2014 exceeded $3B, with a compound annual growth rate of 13% from 2007 to 2014; the limiting factor is supply of avocados, so opening new export markets is critical to expand the pie. Avocado production is increasing—and will continue to increase—not only in large producing countries like Mexico, but also in Peru, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, and Kenya, among others. Avocado oil is also poised to become more mainstream, as Pinterest named avocado oil as the top food trend of 2016; however, it is currently limited due to lack of marketing and high prices.
Uganda has the consummate agriculture-climatic conditions required to grow avocados. Uganda's population is the youngest in the world, with 77% under 30 years of age (Census 2014). Our vision to empower youth in Uganda is to develop agricultural value chains that will support livelihoods, empower wealth creation, and spurn the development of new jobs and services which support from the avocado industry. Agriculture is the only sector of the economy with the realistic potential to employ 100% of all non-working youth in a very short time requiring both skilled and unskilled labor.
Youth Involvement at all Levels of Value Chain
Below is a description of the youth-driven value chain for direct participants:
- Smallholder growers. Youths who (a) have avocado trees or (b) plant avocado trees will have access to buyers and can generate more returns through expansion and management of their own trees.
- Development and distribution of seedlings to farmers. Individual entrepreneurs will be able to distribute seedlings to farmers and will be compensated on a per-tree basis, thereby incentivizing sales for entrepreneurial-minded youths.
- Planting services. Team of entrepreneurs can coordinate with landowners and input distributors to provide planting services or grow larger-scale operations on underutilized land.
- Farm maintenance. Pruners, pickers, and maintainers will ensure that the crop is well managed, thereby increasing the yields and decreasing the potential for damage and disease.
- Harvesting and grading/sorting. Harvesters and graders will ensure that avocados are routed to either oil or fresh market depending on the grade.
- Transportation and collection. Individuals with access to means of transportation will offer their services to transport avocados to collection points on the times dictated by regional management and collection point management.
- Collection point management. Each collection point will provide a job opportunity for a young manager.
- Regional management. Top students with local knowledge will be recruited to run all aspects of regional operations, from supply growth to sales.
- Avocado drying. Drying of avocados before oil production will provide thousands of jobs.
- Value addition and packaging. Avocado oil production facilities will be managed by young graduates with technical degrees and staffed by unemployed youths.
- Sales. Domestic sales staff will generate revenues through sales to individuals for the B2C channel. For B2B, university graduates with business degrees will recruit and manage corporate clients.
Additionally, indirect participants will fuel value chain development and optimization:
- Training and education. Teams of trainers will educate growers and service providers on planting, handling, pruning, picking, grading, and transporting.
- Research and Development. A study by the Uganda Investment Authority in 2015(New Vision) showed that 400,000 people graduate from universities in Uganda each year, but only 150,000 get a job. For those in the science and research fields, the $100M-$500M market value of avocado exports will generate research opportunities to expand and improve the field over the next 10 years.
- New product development, marketing and branding. Youths will be at the forefront of developing new brands for both domestic consumption and export. These may include hair and skin products using avocado oil, or unique packaging to cater to importers and consumers in Europe, Middle East and Asia.
Gerald has a B.S. in business administration from California State University, Stanislaus. In Uganda, Gerald developed a successful coffee company, Gorilla Summit Coffee, which sources coffee from smallholder farmers. Gerald has extensive experience in Uganda’s agriculture sector and spearheaded the development of Uganda’s chia exports. He also serves as the African Regional Director for the Alternative Energy Advisory Group and was the Chief of Business Development at International Community Development Consultants in Kampala, Uganda.
Brendan has a B.S. in international business and management from Georgetown University and extensive experience building companies in emerging markets. Brendan was the Chief Operating Officer of a venture-backed technology startup in Indonesia, where he helped raise funds, build and manage a geographically-dispersed team and grow the business. Brendan has extensive private and public sector work experience in the developing world, including Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Uganda.