Shortening the long road between farmer and consumer: The East Africa Fruits case

Shortening the long road between farmer and consumer: The East Africa Fruits case

27/07/2021
in News
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It is Rikolto’s ambition to create future-proof food systems all around the world which ensure a sustainable income for farmers and supply nutritious, affordable food for everyone. We are working - together with other food system actors – to achieve this ambition.

Tanzania's food system challenges turned into opportunities by a young entrepreneur

In Tanzania, there are many challenges in the food system and inefficiencies within supply chains are common. In a supply chain that is inefficient, everybody loses:

  • Up to 40% of the crops in Tanzania are not consumed due to food waste on the farm, during transportation or at the market

  • Farmers often have no other choice than to sell their produce to brokers or middlemen and receive low prices for their produce.

  • Consumers – often unknowingly – eat unsafe food due to poor farming practices, poor processing, poor transport and poor handling techniques at the market.

Faced with these problems in the food system, entrepreneur Elia Timotheo took it upon him to develop a business solution to tackle exactly these issues.

After working for the Ministry of Agriculture and as a middleman himself, he understood the ecosystem through and through and was ready to set up his company ‘East Africa Fruits’.

The company’s mission is to improve access to markets for smallholder farmers by modernizing the supply chain and demand logistics. East Africa Fruits links smallholder farmers to the markets in Dar es Salaam.

The long road from farm to fork

To make the road from farm to fork shorter, East Africa Fruits eliminates middlemen. The company is currently working with around 5000 farmers and has set up several collection centres close to the farmers.

Once the produce is harvested by the smallholder farmer, a truck from East Africa Fruits goes to the farm, picks up the produce and brings it to the collection centre. In 2020, the company collected more than 6,500 metric tons of produce from smallholder farmers.

But the collection centre is used for more than that alone, it also facilitates easy record keeping and is used for monthly training to improve the farmers’ productivity, produce quality, and the sustainability of their farming techniques.

At the collection centres, East Africa Fruits sorts, processes and packs all the produce in a clean and safe way. But the collection centre is used for more than that alone, it also facilitates easy record keeping and is used for monthly training to improve the farmers’ productivity, produce quality, and the sustainability of their farming techniques.

In the future, it could also serve as an agro-dealer shop or storage for produce that farmers do not intend to sell right away.

Onion farmers from the 'Blue Mountains'

Onion farmers from the 'Blue Mountains'

Rikolto has cooperated with East Africa Fruits to connect over 300 onion farmers in the Pangani river basin to the markets in Dar es Salaam. Explore the story in further detail below.

Explore here

A fairer system for everyone

From the collection centre, the produce is transported to the main facility of East Africa Fruits in Dar es Salaam. There, everything is stored and distributed to different buyers and market vendors. Informal vendors benefit from this system as they avoid wasting time going to the big public market to select produce and have it delivered to their stand or kiosk by a transporter.

This process can take hours and often vendors end up getting tricked into buying rotten produce, because middlemen pack the produce in such a way that only the fresh- and good-looking produce is visible.

Vendors can receive direct deliveries of quality fresh produce from East Africa Fruits.

To avoid this waste of time and money, vendors can receive direct deliveries of quality fresh produce from East Africa Fruits. This also means that consumers in Dar es Salaam have access to food that follows safety and quality standards, contributing to better overall health and combatting food-borne diseases.

Data collection & technology for everyone's benefit

Besides supporting farmers to increase productivity and build better agribusinesses, East Africa Fruits also meticulously tracks data from farmer to vendor. By providing proof of the viability of their business, this data can help the farmer and vendor to access finance and qualify for loans to buy inputs or expand their business.

East Africa Fruits also meticulously tracks data from farmer to vendor.

For the future, East Africa Fruits wants to improve tracking ordering patterns and data collection to build reliable customer profiles by developing a software solution. This technological advancement will support the anticipation of production volumes to make the purchase and collection of produce from farmers even more efficient. They are also looking for a software solution to make the selling of produce easier.

Rikolto is currently supporting East Africa Fruits to access investments for technological improvements and expansion.

Every July, the annual #AfricanCITYFOODmonth campaign highlights diverse, innovative and evolving African urban food systems.

Rikolto is telling these stories because we want key players in African food systems to see the value of investing in young entrepreneurs and to create an enabling environment for them to thrive and prosper. Because their success is everyone’s success.

Visit the #AfricanCITYFOODmonth campaign page