YAP Proposal #249: Weekly organic food basket (Hussain Mujahid, Pakistan)

HussainMujahid

I am Hussain Mujahid, 38 years old, from Islamabad, Pakistan. I am a development practitioner.

Introduction

According to many reports, organic food is a growing business with good long-term prospects. Despite the heightened attention that organic agriculture has attracted during the last decade, it still only accounts for a small proportion of overall agricultural land: an average of about 2.3% for the countries of the European Union, 2.2% for Australia, 0.23% for the United States of America and 1.30% for Canada.

Notably, organic agriculture is also gaining importance in a number of developing countries, including Uganda (1.39%) , Sri Lanka (0.65%) , Tunisia (0.36%), Egypt (0.19%), China (0.06%), India (0.03%) and the Philippines (0.02 %) (SOEL-Survey, February 2004). Even though it is a small portion, its rate of growth is very fast.

Organic agriculture is one among the broad spectrum of production methods that are supportive of the environment. Organic production systems are based on specific and precise standards of production that aim to achieve agro-ecosystems that are socially and ecologically sustainable.

In view of the high population growth rate in the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metropolitan areas, there is tremendous business potential in the local food sector in order to cater the day by day increasing food requirements in the region.

At present, a large proportion of raw food items are being transported from central/south Punjab, as underutilized agricultural land in North Punjab is not producing enough food to meet the regional requirements. Furthermore, despite the high demand of organic food in Islamabad, the production of organic raw food is quite below the requirements.

A number of agricultural farms in the Rawalpindi-Islamabad region are currently producing organic food and earning huge profits, reflecting its high level of marketing potential in the capital.

The Sustainable Organic Farming Project (OFP) will provide a technology-based means of promoting the efficient use of natural resources, provide an opportunity for environmentally sound economic self-sufficiency, and ensure the preservation and expansion of business. The Sustainable OFP will also promote protection of the environment, particularly surface water, groundwater, and soil conservation.

The Sustainable OFP project will be implemented in four phases:

  • Design and Pilot Project Initiation
  • Initiation of Pilot Project
  • Expansion (commercialization design and commercialization)

All proposed diversified farming activities have the potential to give multiple productive seasons within a year. Vegetables and flowers could be produced 3 to 4 times in a year. The proposed integrated diversified farm would choose appropriate cropping methodologies with mixed cropping so that there is less competition for water, nutrition and space.

The proposed farm could adopt eco-friendly practices such as following multi-story arrangements so that available land is effectively used. Similarly, through high level of interaction among biotic and abiotic components, it would also be ensured that the whole farm productivity is increased.

Objectives

  • Provide our customers with the freshest organically grown fruits and vegetables
  • Increase income of local farmers/growers
  • Promote sustainable farming business

Output

  • Weekly Organic Food Basket Web portal developed and launched
  • Customer friendly services center established and functional
  • 1000 household customers in Islamabad and Rawalpindi order and receive Weekly Organic Food Baskets in year 1
  • Retail stores identified and contracted for produce directly purchased at stores
  • Media and awareness campaign

The weekly organic food basket is an innovative idea designed in two phases:  1) establishment of organic farms, and 2) linking farms with citizens through technology.  The citizens shall have access to online stores to purchase items, which will then be delivered to their homes within hours.

The project idea will be further expanded to open retail stores in targeted cities in Pakistan.

The organically grown food must adhere to specific standards regulated by the Department of Agriculture of the Pakistani government. Crops will be generally grown without synthetic pesticides, artificial fertilizers or biotechnology in open huge greenhouses to supply the city with organic vegetables and fruit.

The project will work to provide incentives to organic farmers who implement agricultural methods that have less negative environmental impacts, similar to those historically provided to traditional farmers. In the longer term, these incentives should include, but are not limited to, price supports, support grants for farmers, low-interest loans from banks and marketing assistance.

The ultimate goal is to promote an expansion in the role of small farmers in addressing the future environmental constraints on agriculture.

Activities

  • Developing online web portal
  • Establish calling center and SMS facilities for purchasing and order
  • Continue engagement with local farmers and collect fresh organic vegetables and food items
  • Pack organic foods in weekly organic food baskets
  • Hire and contract retail stores
  • Establish daily/weekly order placement and delivery mechanism
  • Establish customer satisfaction feedback mechanism for learning and improvement

The project will establish retail organic food outlets in the targeted city neighborhoods and collect organic foods from local farmers, mainly selling in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Also the online product website will be established for ordering and purchasing.  Media campaigns will be launched to promote the service and convince street corner stores and grocery stores to carry organic produce.

The project will pay the farmers a major profit share and utilize the sustainability of the ventures. The project will be scaled up to add more natural foods like cereal, honey, spices, ghee and other seasonal foods and also serve other cities in Pakistan with the partnership of local farmers that are encouraged by the boost they will get in their local households income.

The online sales will be focused on the organic food packages below:

  • Weekly organic vegetable box (Seasonal and off-season vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, chilis, etc.)
  • Other natural foods like cereal, honey, spices, ghee and other seasonal foods that are collected from local farmers in the neighborhood

Targeted customers

  • Citizens of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Attack and surrounding cities like Hassan Abdal, Texila
  • Foreigners
  • Restaurants
  • Officials messes
  • Hotels

Budget

Establishing web-based platform for orders and purchases:          $500
Establishing retail stores in Islamabad and Rawalpindi:      $3000
Human Resources staff:                $1000
Logistics:                $500
Total:                     $5,000

 

Blogpost and picture submitted by Hussain Mujahid (Islamabad, Pakistan) – mhussain[at]pedainternational.org

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.


This post is published as proposal #249 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

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