Help Us Build Resilience — w/ this Plant.

 

Below is a breakdown of the money we are seeking for our intended plant.

But first, a few people have asked how we conceived this whole idea; its suitability (i.e. why we think it solves the problem), and how we arrived at our envisaged budget. Our recent conversation with one Professor at Yale University, partly answers this.

A more chronological description of our rationale for setting up this plant is available in our Global Goals campaign citizencall.org, under the section “Let’s Do Something”.

 

THE PROBLEM:

The absence of reliable markets for our produce is the main challenge for rural poor farmers across our region. Farmers have no market linkages beyond village level, yet everyone is very poor, and no local demand exists. This not only guarantees incomes below the poverty line, but also means, an already impoverished farmer can’t produce beyond a certain point, and can’t scale. It is also the one thing that makes it hard for people like us to rebuild post COVID-19. If addressed, many farmers would indeed be able to turn into more productive citizens who are capable of exiting poverty in a self-sustaining way, at least if given a little hand-up (like planting materials, training, etc).

 

THE SOLUTION:

Our goal is to develop a plant that shall both reverse poverty and create jobs in our region, by minimizing post-harvest food losses; creating reliable market linkages for rural poor farmers, and linking our produce with agri-value chains — like bakeries and confectioneries; bottling companies and breweries; biscuit makers & yogurt producers; paperboard industries and pharmaceuticals, adhesive industries & textiles, and so on.

Individual rural poor smallholder farmers will directly benefit from high prices for their produce; a ready market at harvest, as well as inputs (seed, agronomic training and other extension services) that the UCF provides to all the farmers we work with. Installing this plant will also give us the capacity to work with an unlimited number of fellow poor farmers across a wider geographical area, in a self-sustaining manner.

Technical assistance on installing the whole plant; building market linkages, and advice on specific crop systems will come from TechoServe, SolarLabSU.com, Partners in Food Solutions, AfrII, Natural Resources Institute UK & specialized entities like Alvan Blanch.

In addition, we are seeking the help of everyone out there, on developing this plant.  Please see “How You Can Help” beneath this page, to see how you too can join in.

 

NOTE: as shown under “Funding Targets” in our current crowdfundraiser for this plant (see link below), you will realize that, although our envisaged total budget for this plant is big ($15m), we will install a specific portion of this plant once the money we have raised is at intervals of $240k; $620k; $1m and $15m. That is, we will begin developing this plant once we raise $240k, and we will complete it once we have raised $15m in total. And so, every little support that we can raise will make a strategic incremental beginning.

 

BUDGET BREAKDOWN:

 

1).  Farmer Support:  $0.2m

Provision of seed and agronomic training to rural poor farmers. This is intended to increase the scope of production; disseminate better crop varieties (e.g. the right sorghum and cassava species for beer production, and the ideal fruit varieties for juice production), and to ensure that even the poorest farmers who have no inputs can participate equally, this time with a ready market for their produce at harvest.

Farmers in our region will, for the very first time, get to grow the 4 newest varieties of cassava (Nase11, Nase19, Narocass1 and Narocass2) that are very climate-resilient and disease-resistant, and which have a higher yield than all previous varieties. It will also be the first time farmers in our region will start growing white sorghum, which is used for beer production. The latter has already been initiated by the UCF in Kamuli.

To maximize our budget for farmer support, and as a way of ensuring that we can support as many rural poor farmers as possible, we will also partner with initiatives like the Uganda government’s Operation Wealth Creation, to enable farmers access free inputs like cassava cuttings; pineapple suckers; mango; orange and passion fruit seedlings. We will seek such partnerships as soon as we start developing our plant.

 

2).  Plant Component #1 — Cassava, Cereal & Grain Processing:  $0.8m

a). A cereal/grain sorting, grading and threshing system (ideally from Alvan Blanch UK). This will help put our sorghum and maize on a standard where it can be used by all breweries as well as many other buyers across the East African region: $90,000

b). A utility for producing cassava starch and/or tapioca for beer, bakery, pasta, the pharmaceutical industry, textile use, paperboard and adhesive industries, biscuit makers and yogurt producers, etc (ideally from LARSSON Sweden): $380,000

c). Two greenhouse-type solar food dryers, 9mx27m each. These will be constructed with materials from the Germany firm ‘Covestro’, and will be installed by Covestro’s implementing technical team (SolarLabSU.com), who are based at Silpakorn University. Cost per dryer (including shipping of materials & labor) is $80,000. Total: $160,000.

A single solar food dryer similar to the ones we need was installed at a Ugandan University in 2017 for $100,000. So, a unit cost of $80,000 is the best we can find.

d). A cassava milling machine (for High Quality Cassava Flour): $25,000

e). A new block for housing our cassava milling machine; our cereal/grain sorting and threshing machine, plus renovation of the UCF’s already existing storehouse: $50,000

f). An open building where fresh cassava is peeled: $5,000.

g). A 625 sq ft concrete water tank where peeled cassava is soaked overnight (i.e. for hydrolysis) to convert cyanogenic glucosides into cyanide (in bitter varieties): $5,000

h). A boiling system to reduce cyanide content in peeled cassava: $5,000

i). A conveyer belt for handling the cassava during processing: $10,000

j). Packaging accessories: $30,000

k). An electric powered borehole, and plumbing installations, to supply running water. A manual borehole is already in place at the UCF, but needs modification to provide running water: $20,000

l). Laying pavers on the floor of our processing yard to enhance hygiene: $10,000

m). A 300 ft x 400 ft enclosure around our processing plant for security: $10,000

 

3).  Plant Component #2 — Fruit Processing Facility:  $14m

A facility that has an hourly capacity of turning 6 – 8 tons of fresh fruit into intermediate products like purees and concentrates, or fresh fruit juice. This will either come from Alvan Blanch (UK), or from an Italian food processing equipment maker.

 

Total cost (for 1, 2 and 3 above):  $15m

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

1). Help amplify our current crowdfundraiser for this plant, e.g. via digital media. You could even be able to help us raise a fraction of the needed support on your own.

2). For people from the philanthropic community, and those from the business world (especially those who make up the UN Global Compact), one way you could help is by making a contribution, or rallying your network to help us raise part of the needed funding. Every support that we can raise will make a strategic incremental beginning.

3). Place one or two people from your team directly at the UCF (once COVID-19 abates), and then work with us as ONE team to develop this plant from start to finish, by sharing knowledge, and recruiting your network to lend a hand in any possible way.

4).  If you possess any hands-on skills that you could offer on a volunteering basis (e.g. as an industrial designer; food technologist, mechanical engineer etc), come work with us here in Uganda, to develop this plant, once the coronavirus has relented.

5). We will also need the help of some MBA student volunteers, or just anyone out there, to orientate us on key areas of work, like business management and staffing needs, or even new technologies for monitoring our farmers’ fields in real time.

6). If you are someone who has no hands-on skills to offer (i.e. if you are an unskilled volunteer who would like to be part of us in developing this plant), there is a lot you can do, from carrying materials from suppliers, to working as a porter. Come join in.

 

We can even do better than the work described above, if only we could find enough helping hands. To find out, plz see the words “We Can Even Do More” on this page.

 

P.S. — the current climate crisis is set to hit people like us the hardest. At the same time, the grip of poverty in a place like ours warrants the very kind of solutions we are envisioning. Plz see ‘CO2 Emissions’ in our Global Goals campaign (citizencall.org), to learn about how we plan to offset all the CO2 emissions from our intended plant.

 

Help us put a sizable bet on 2030, today. Help us make 2030 the year poverty must end.
Anthony  < anthony AT ugandafarm.org >