Agriculture is a mainstay of our region’s economies, contributing x% to East Africa’s GDP. However, it is a sector that has been slow to innovate. And even with consistent efforts to close the skills gap in good agriculture practices and post-harvest handling, low levels of technology penetration as well as the lack of proper machinery and equipment make it difficult for farmers to translate this new knowledge into tangible benefits for them and their families. Read about how the FoodTrade ESA grantee Pee Pee Tanzania Ltd. is leveraging partnerships to drive adoption of the PICS bag technology in Tanzania.
Innovation in our context means doing something more efficiently in a way that leads to improved, sustainable results. For the FoodTrade ESA programme, the biggest beneficiary of the innovations that we support and leverage is the smallholder farmer. Post-harvest loss and lack of aggregation and storage facilities continue to undermine progress made in improving the skills passed on to them.
Pee Pee Tanzania Limited (PPTL) is licensed to produce and distribute Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) hermetic packaging which allows farmers to store their crops for long periods of time, without the use of chemicals. The grant provided by FoodTrade ESA was used to expand the capacity of the company to produce and sell PICS bags. By improving the post-harvest storage capabilities of farmers, their flexibility about when to store or sell their crops provides them with additional income. Charles Ndibalema, a dealer based in Chato district, Geita region said that farmers find the use of PICS bags cost effective and they trust the technology to store their grain. “A significant number of farmers now use this new storing technology. A few of those who are still reluctant to use the PICS bags are required to sell their produce soon after harvest, denying them an opportunity to leverage price fluctuations and generate income throughout the year,” he said.
While PPTL’s strategy was to create a four tier distribution structure with super-dealers, vendors, retailers, and farmers, the company has had to adapt to improve penetration of the bags in farming communities. Training in post-harvest handling required engagement of PPTL, key partners, as well as other stakeholder to avoid duplication of efforts and resources. PPTL partnered with WFP, local agricultural extension service providers, and NGOs (RUDI, BRiTEN and GPLP). At the trainings, demonstrations of various post-harvest hermetic technology including PICS bags were done. Farmers’ formal and informal groupings like SACCOS, AMCOS, VICOBAs, and MVIWATAs will be key to strengthening the penetration of such technologies. Within two months, the partners were able to reach 27,770; the partnership also resulted in reduced training costs and an increased uptake of hermetic bag technology.
PPTL has entered into a partnership with PICS global and a Kenyan partner to scale up capacity to produce PICS hermetic storage bags as a relevant storage solution for farmers. The company signed an MoU to establish a joint venture manufacturing hub in Tanga that will service the EAC and SADC regions.