In addition to the natural resources, farming techniques and farming implements, a large part of the problem of food waste is the supply chain and the interaction of various actors in the supply chain. From farmer to consumer there could be anywhere from 5 actors to 30 or more depending on government agencies, crossing borders, brokers, etc. Streamlining the supply chain is one of the first things to analyze, and develop a set of key performance indicators that you can track from foodstuff to foodstuff and country to country. Things like time to market, number of hand-offs, number of actors, time spent in storage, number of documents needs to be filed, etc. are all good metrics to use when looking at this problem. A second problem is how foodstuffs are stored and handled on their way from farmer to market. It maybe important to develop better transportation and storage methods in the short run, and in the long-run approach other solutions that address the entire supply chain. One method could be to create regional based storage facilities where foodstuffs can be stored temporarily while they wait for transportation to market. During this waypoint, foodstuffs can be inspected for damanged or spoilage, and any items that are found to be damaged or spoiled can be gotten rid of early on saving the rest of the items. Finally, streamlining health inspections and documentation is important so that these procedures do not create impediments to food reaching markets. T
I have some suggestions to your second and third unanswered questions. It is hard to bring in a very high tech and innovative solution to people that are going to view this tech as adding to their costs without proving how they will benefit. Additionally, they may view this as a very complex solution to their problem, and you face the problem where there is a lack of buy-in to your solution. Another is the issue of push back from other actors in the supply chain. If all of the sudden the Artis disappear, how can you guarantee that the actors further downstream will buy-in to your new system?
The Arti Problem
Your SMS solution is very innovative, and I think you can start implementing a service to help farmers out now whether or not they want to be part of MandiExpress. You can show each day or week the prices that Artis are buying various food stuffs for in a particular city or town. You can send an SMS to the farmers in that area the following information: the lowest purchase price for a food stuff, the average purchase price for the town/city and the highest purchase price for a food stuff. You can create various SMS listservs based on the particular food stuff that a farmer produces. Farmers can sign up for the particular SMS listservs for the foods that they grow. This can be something that you charge a subscription based fee for per month or per year. I suggest running a pilot project of this in either Karachi or Lahore to test whether this is information that farmers want and how quickly you can get the pricing information from Artis in that city.
Before a huge roll-out of your product and idea, you should run several pilot projects with farmers or co-ops of farmers. You will teach them how to use the technology and monitor the outcomes of using this solution. You may find that your solution reduces costs and bottlenecks in one area of the supply chain, but doesn't resolve other issues that result in higher costs for farmers. This means you need to redesign your solution in resolve these issues, or create another solution for those problems. Once you are armed with this data, it is easier to show other farmers and farming communities the benefits of implementing your solution versus the current system.
Supply Chain Issues
Your solution is an entirely tech solution but fails to take into account some important aspects of a food supply chain - logistics, storage of goods, food handling, distribution and retail sales. Your solution, while innovative, does not take these into account. To get buy-in from consumers and farmers, you need to show how you will solve these issues. While I'm sure that Artis are a very large problem due to their obfuscating costs, logistics, food storage and distribution are very large cost for the total cost of an item. If food is not stored properly it will spoil before it gets to the consumer, and improper handling will also lead to potential sources of contagion. Does MandiExpress plan to move into offering logistics, food storage and distribution? Or is it simply a tech solution? If you aren't going to provide these solutions, you need to find a third party logistics company that can take care of these operations if you do not plan to purchase warehouses and trucks.