For farmers in Pakistan, tendingto land is close to worship. They spend their lives on the farm, generations after generations working on the same land producing the same crop to provide for their families.
There are 9.3 million farming families in Pakistan whose livelihood is based on the fruits and vegetables they produce.
Ali Baksh is one of these people. He doesn’t own any land but he and his family have been farming the same seventeen acres for the last three generations.
However, life is tough. The Pakistan Environmental Protection agency found that thirty percent of the fruits and vegetables produced in Pakistan are wasted in harvest. Close to half the dates Ali and his family produce rots on the ground or in transit to markets due to lack of a proper cold chain infrastructure. This causes his family to live on the edge of poverty.
Imagine, spending all your time and energy on a task and only reaping 70% of the benefits from it.
Our business model, aims to help Ali and other farmers with a simple solution.
The main problem Ali faces is the loss of income, by buying a share of his produce at market competitive rates we will be able to provide him with much needed income.
Another issue is the thousands of tonnes of fruits and vegetables that are wasted, using solar dehydration technology we plan to prolong their shelf life and enhance their salability.
And finally the current sun drying methods used by Ali and his family are unhygienic making the fruit inedible, the process at our dehydration facilities will produce consistent high quality dehydrated product.
In its entirety, the process will consist of buying produce from farmers, pre-treating and dehydrating it at our facilities, getting it quality tested and packaged followed by distribution and sale.
The Hohenheim solar dehydrators have global recognition and are being successfully used in fifty five countries. However, this technology has yet to be implemented in Pakistan.
The dehydrator uses solar energy to dehydrate fruit foregoing the need for either capital intensive solar panels or any other form of electricity except for a small fan.
It consists of two parts, the thermal collector and the drying tunnel, covered by a plastic sheet.
The dehydration process is as follows:
- Sorting, cutting and pretreating the produce and placing it in the drier
- cold air then moves into the drier and is heated by the suns energy
- this creates a greenhouse effect and the hot air moves into the drying chamber where it removes the moisture in the produce thereby producing the final dehydrated product.
The dehydrator is amazing for several reasons:
- It has close to zero running cost if you discount maintenance
- It produces a hygienic and consistent final product
- Can be locally manufactured, is durable and very easy to operate.
At inception we plan to build a facility near Nawabshah, Sindh.
Where we will process Dates, Chillis, Mangoes and Bananas, crop indigenous to this region.
Our first facility will start operations with twenty five dehydrators. During our second and third year we will increase the number of dehydrators to 50 and then to 100 at four facilities in total. We expect to break-even by our third year of operations after our distribution networks are in place. By 2025 we plan to have 22 facilities with approximately 550 dehydrators functioning near farmlands in Pakistan and reducing about eight thousand tonnes of wasted fruits and vegetables.
By our estimates we will be earning a profit of 2.23 dollars per kg per day. By then we hope to be able to provide Ali and other farmers with in 2.03 dollars in daily income.
In the years to come we plan on expanding to the Gilgit-Baltistan area which is the land of Pakistan’s apricot growers as well as the potato and tomato plantations of Punjab.
Over the next decade we plan to grow our idea across South Asia utilizing our knowledge of solar dehydration techniques and the supply chain systems in third world countries to reduce food waste in a sustainable and profitable way.
Our business model is only as strong as our partners and for this reason we have identified and consulted with our potential business partners. Pakistan Farmer’s Association will be our relationship partner helping us reach the farmers. Agility Logistics has widespread networks and will be transporting the produce to and from our facilities, SGS Pakistan will be our quality controllers ensuring that our products are up to consumption and export standards. The Sindh Enterprise Development Fund will be our consultants and advisers in this endeavor and as our customers we have identified food industries such as National Foods and Shan Foods as well as the Pakistan Army, all of whom accept SGS quality checks.
Our most vital stakeholders are the farmers from whom we will be buying our produce. We plan and hope to build lasting relationships with them, train members of farming communities to work at our facilities and have an impact on twelve million lives by 2025.
I know that we have an idea that can truly make a difference, I hope you can see it too.