Farmers in Sub-sahara Africa, lose between 30 per cent-to-50 per cent of fruits and vegetables due to inadequate storage, Harvest Protection Network (HPN), has said.
To address the challenge, HPN has promised to introduce a program to reduce crop spoilage losses in the sub-region. It said its business model will test the premise that revenues from the sale of crops previously lost to spoilage will pay for the buildings.
“While many programs focus on how to increase food production, HPN will focus on protecting what we already grow. In addition to providing waterproof and pest proof storage, these buildings can serve as a distribution center and/or an indoor market. This program also contemplates outright ownership of these buildings by smallholder farmers,” says HPN’s founder and owner, Ian Bennett.
Bennett, a Wharton MBA graduate who has been involved in the business of agriculture in Africa for over 40 years, was quick to point out that this is not a “handout” program. He said while participating African countries are not being asked to provide any of the funds to deliver and assemble these buildings, they are being asked to remove any import duty and the participating farmers are being asked to provide the land on which these buildings will be erected.
Preliminary talks with foundations have been characterized by surprise that HPN is not interested in grant funding. “Our immediate challenge is to confirm that these buildings are self-funding,” he said, adding that if this pilot program is successful, HPN will seek a renewable credit facility to make it possible to continue delivering these buildings to Africa’s farming communities.
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