Throughout our nearly 40 year history, Bountifield has always been committed to getting needed crop processing tools into the hands of rural farmers to help them improve their productivity for producing food. While we previously focused much of our attention on what kinds of tools were the most appropriate and effective, we began to learn more about another key aspect of farmers’ needs: affordability and accessibility.
With much of the development for crop processing technologies focused on large-scale farms, an access gap has been created between affordable postharvest tools and rural farming communities. Even the tools designed for small-scale farms are often still too expensive for the rural farmer. While we had designed and adapted tools that were appropriate, we have given a lot of thought to how we can sustainably bridge the gap to affordable tools and services.
We see the answer in a one-to-many approach. To do this, we create opportunities for rural entrepreneurs and small to medium enterprises to establish, build and grow businesses centered around crop processing tools. These businesses create access for the farmer through rental, on-site or mobile processing services. The one entrepreneur with the tool can reach many farmers with their technology services in a single harvest season.
From our work in both Senegal and Malawi, we have learned that while farmers may not have the ability to own the postharvest technology, they are often willing and able to pay a small fee for the use of a tool to process their crops. Instead of finding the financial means to invest in the purchase of a single tool, farmers have access to rent a wider range of the technologies they need to process, save and sell more food.
This is why we believe investment in the entrepreneurial development of rural communities is key to bridging the technology gap for farmers. This approach is at the heart of our new project in Kenya where high postharvest losses contribute to dependency on foreign food imports. In this program, we will collaborate with small agribusinesses and African entrepreneurs, supporting the growth and establishment of their crop processing enterprises in rural communities.
We continue to place high value in getting appropriate technologies into the hands of smallholders while cultivating affordable opportunities to access the use of a much needed tool. But we also see this as an opportunity to invest in the inclusive economic growth of rural communities through the creation of more job potential while still contributing to the development of a nutritious and thriving local food supply.