East Africa Fruits: Changing the Farm-to-Market Supply Chain
FINCA International partner, East Africa Fruits (EAF), is a social enterprise based in Tanzania. The organization is streamlining the farm-to-market supply chain process. It is helping smallholder farmers get better prices for their products while reducing food spoilage. This means vendors receive better quality products for their consumers, and it also generates positive environmental impacts. EAF’s process helps both the farmers and consumers, which is why it is an ideal FINCA partner.
Focusing on Smallholder Farmers
Across sub-Saharan Africa, smallholder farmers make up 70 percent of the population. However, the farmers in this region have the lowest crop yields in the world. One way EAF aims to help address these issues is at the source itself.
EAF works directly with smallholder farmers to help them transition to more sustainable farming and agricultural practices. It provides ongoing training and support throughout the growing season to help farmers increase their crop yields so they get more produce from the work they put into growing their crops.
Disrupting the Farm-to-Market Supply Chain
Throughout the typical supply chain process in sub-Saharan Africa, produce from smallholder farmers may pass through the hands of three, four or even more middlemen before even getting to a retailer or food vendor. Distribution to a main city, sale to the vendor and more may be handled by different middlemen. However, the more middlemen throughout this process means the less money a farmer receives, as each person takes a cut. This results in low prices and less returns for farmers.
The process EAF uses cuts out all other middlemen. The company has built an infrastructure enabling it to collect produce directly from farmers and deliver it straight to its vendors. That infrastructure includes produce collection and processing centers in areas close to smallholder farmers. Additionally, it uses proper cold chain logistics—such as refrigerated trucks and warehouses—that increase produce shelf-life. In effect, EAF replaces multiple middlemen, allowing it to reduce waste, ensure quality, pass more of the final price back to farmers and reduce costs for vendors.
Making a Real Difference in Farmers’ Lives
Currently, EAF is working with over 1,300 smallholder farmers in Tanzania and plans to expand by more than five times that within the next four years. And based on the agricultural support and fair pricing EAF provides, it predicts its farmers could produce up to a 35 percent increase in their crop yields. Additionally, with its novel farm-to-market distribution model, EAF expects to reduce post-harvest losses from 40 to 20 percent.
But EAF doesn’t plan to stop there. With the help of partners like FINCA International, the social enterprise plans to expand their distribution model throughout the region. Their goal is to help thousands upon thousands of smallholder farmers. By working with them to increase their yields and receive more profits from their harvest, EAF is helping farmers improve their lives and work their way out of poverty.