A food supply chain is the journey food takes from where it’s grown to where it’s consumed. Typically, the chain is made up of six processes:
- Assembling raw materials.
- Processing (Branding and packaging).
- Distribution (wholesale and retail).
These different processes are handled by various key players in the food supply chain such as farmers, manufacturers, distributors and others.
If there is an error during any of these stages, the final product could be affected and the consumer might end up taking food that is below safety standards.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 1 in 10 people fall sick every year from eating contaminated food. Therefore a problem in the supply system might be detrimental to one’s health.
Below are three problems facing the food supply chain and some suggested solutions:
1. Lack of Traceability:
Nowadays, many people are curious about the origin of their food. For instance, a lot of people like to know the exact ingredients that constitute their meals to be sure it meets up with their diet plans/dietary intake.
In 2012, a study in Europe revealed that 70% of consumers consider the origin of their food as an important factor when purchasing it. Food traceability is important because it has three key benefits:
- It improves quality control.
- It increases supply chain visibility.
- It reduces risk.
Nonetheless, the food supply system is still not as traceable as consumers would like it to be.
Keeping a record of the food journey from production to consumption not only helps companies guarantee the authenticity of their products but also helps suppliers spot and react quickly when issues arise.
It also helps companies to build their customer base, loyalty, brand, and can be a saving grace in the events of legal issues.
Some practical ways to increase food traceability is by:
- Implementing tracking systems and software.
- Creating alert systems to notify key players when things go wrong.
- Communicating with the customers.
2. Poor Storage and Transport:
Poor storage and transport is one of the biggest problems in agriculture and it often leads to food wastage. In the food supply chain, the problem also affects the quality of food.
If any of the key players compromise food quality and they don’t detect it early, the consumer can end up eating this unsafe food.
The goal is to produce and distribute high quality products that are safe for consumption and there are some practical measures that can be taken towards achieving this.
If you compromise one step, you will one step is jeopardized, it will compromise the entire process. To solve this problem, the first step is to select the best raw materials and use the right production method to see the process through.
Use adequate storage equipment to store feed in order to keep it fresh and healthy. Also, when branding and packaging the food, manufacturers should do it in a way that they preserve the freshness and safety of the food.
3. Lack of Trust and Communication Between Key Players:
No chain can function well if there is ineffective communication between key players. Improper communication causes a rift in the food supply chain.
Nearly every food item passes through many hands before it gets to the final consumer. It is sometimes hard to keep track of all the people involved in food production.
For instance, a plate of salad consists of different vegetables. Each of these vegetables (cabbage, lettuce, spinach) were planted in different places and go through various hands in order to get to the consumer’s plate.
Thankfully, technology has made it easier to communicate. To encourage transparency and increase effectiveness in the food supply chain, there should be a clear channel of communication among the key players.
What other problems can be encountered in the food supply chain? Let us know in the comment section below.
7 Amazing Apps for Better Farm Management
In this digital era, smartphones and the apps we have access to from the App Store are making our lives easier, and boosting productivity.
There’s an app for everything. Need to see a movie? There’s Netflix. Need to do some shopping? There’s Ebay. Need to fall asleep to the sound of rainfall? There’s Relax Rain. But how about when you need to manage farming and other agricultural activities? Is there an app for that? Yes, there are many farm apps and here are just a few of them:
1. Farmcrowdy App:
The farmcrowdy app is a farm app that allows you to literally carry your farm with you wherever you go.
To be a digital farmer and start using the app to manage your farms, all you need to do is select a farm of choice and sponsor as many units of that farm type as you want. The app also sends updates and progress reports and at the end of the farm cycle, you get paid your initial sponsorship and returns after harvest.
This innovative technology has created a hassle-free farming platform while also impacting the lives of rural farmers across the country.
The app already has over 80,000 + downloads with good reviews. You can earn profits farming from your home with the Farmcrowdy mobile app.
Weed infestation is one of the worst nightmares of a farmer especially if they have no idea what kind of weed it is. Not knowing makes it difficult for the farmer to know what measures to take to counter the weed. However, with IDWeeds, the solution is just an app away.
IDWeeds is available to the people of Missouri. IDWeeds contains information on over 430 weed species that can be found in gardens, lawns, and other areas. To identify the type of weed, you will be required to enter details like leaf type, leaf color, and root system of the weed inside the app.
A farmer can have the best seeds and the best farming equipment but still end up making poor decisions, why? Because the soil is very important and you need to understand the soil type before you plant. Luckily, there’s an app that can tell you this.
SoilWeb uses your phone’s GPS to let you know what soil type you’re standing on. Information such as the soil type, taxonomy, land classification, flood ratings and organic matter will all be shown in the app to enable you make better planting decisions.
When farming, some disasters such as droughts, diseases, and pest infestations can affect farming activities and lead to losses. Zambians have developed an app which can avoid this.
Agripredict was started in Zambia and is the winner of the 2018 #HackAgainstHunger competition. The app, through photos taken, can detect the presence of pests and diseases. Being able to detect threats to farming influences farm management decision. Isn’t that wonderful?
The app can also forecast the probability of pest invasion and also predict the possibility of adverse weather conditions. The app also uses diverse data sources and sensors to forecast yield. This helps farmers estimate expected yield from a specific plot of farmland.
Information regarding rainfall is a crucial part of farm management. Rain affects the soil and farmers need to know how to measure the amount of rainfall in an area in order to make more informed planting decisions.
The Pocket rain gauge gives location – specific rainfall measurements and is updated every hour and reflects the previous 24 hours. It also makes it possible for farmers and home gardeners to share their feedback along with accurate rainfall measurements.
Plants need nitrogen, and in the right quantity. Too much or too little could be detrimental so how can a farmer know how much nitrogen a crop requires?
This app is designed to measure the nitrogen intake in a crop and generate a nitrogen recommendation based on the photographs of the crop. Based on leaf cover, and other factors such as an estimated fraction of brown leaves, the app calculates nitrogen uptake for the app.
The app shows the user how much nitrogen to apply, crop quality, and also provides fertilizer recommendations. Isn’t it amazing how much information regarding a crop can be gotten just from its photograph?
7. Hay Day:
Sometimes, learning about farm management can come from simply playing knowledge-based games. One of such games is HayDay. This game allows you to take the role of a farmer that oversees the management of farmland; grow crops, plants trees, take care of animals etc.
These are just a few of the apps that make farm management easier. What apps are you using? Share in the comment section below.
Kenyan, South African startups are winners of the African Development Bank’s youth AgriPitch competition 2019
ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire, 22 July 2019 – A veteran exporter of Kenyan fresh fruits and vegetables and a young South African farmer specialising in the design, provision and management of indoor and outdoor hydroponic systems, were the winners of this year’s youth AgriPitch competition, organized by the African Development Bank in partnership with the Western Cape Government in South Africa.
Kenyan Alex Muli, CEO and Co-Founder of Goshen Farm won $25,000 for best agribusiness in the mature start-up category, while Paul Sheppard, from South Africa, Co-Founder of Future Farms, took the $10,000 prize for the early start-up category.
The 2019 youth AgriPitch Competition themed “Climate Smart Agriculture: Business and Employment Opportunities for Africa’s Youth” took place in Cape Town, South Africa from 24th to 28th June 2019.
“It was a great event. I met many pioneers in the various agri-tech spaces with many potential and exciting projects, with the renewed hope of access to finance models coming to the fore. The prize money will help our company to upscale to the size we want to grow to, as well as meeting potential investors and learning more about the industry,” said Sheppard.
Muli, who co-founded Goshen farms with his mother in 2011, said it was exciting to be shortlisted as agripreneur in the Mature Startups category.
“The boot camp was a great learning experience for me and helped me to know how to better tell the story about my business. I was humbled to meet fellow agripeneurs from other African countries who are doing great stuff out there hence rewriting our continent’s story, a story of hope, transformation and sustainability by young Africans for Africa,“ he said.
Over 400 agribusiness proposals from across the continent participated in the AYAF competition, which culminated in an award gala dinner, where six winners from the two categories received a total of U$ 74,000.
This AgriPitch Competition was part of a larger forum, the African Youth Agripreneurs Forum (AYAF) an annual forum of the African Development Bank’s flagship, Enable Youth Program, which focuses on youth employment and food insecurity.
“At the African Development Bank, we believe that the future of the continent’s youth lies in more rapid and inclusive economic growth which creates quality jobs. This is why the Bank has developed a number of key programs, such as Enable Youth and the Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy. To date, the Bank has committed over $350 million to Enable Youth investments in 12 countries on the continent,“ said Dr Edward Mabaya, Manager, Agribusiness Development Division at the African development Bank.
The forum provided a platform for youth agripreneurs and key stakeholders to brainstorm with experts, business leaders, investors and policy makers on issues that affect youth employment and key solutions to addressing these. It also served as a call to action to support innovative agriculture growth through intense engagement and mentorship for small and medium enterprises, and emphasized that with greater support and opportunities to set up their agribusiness enterprise, youth can become the driving force of Africa’s agriculture transformation.
Sponsors of the 2019 AgriPitch Competition and African Youth Agripreneurs Forum include the Bank’s Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund (funded by The Netherlands, Demark, Italy, Sweden, and Norway); the Western Cape Government’s Department of Agriculture; The Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation Trust Fund; and The Africa Climate Change Fund.
“We strive to disrupt the African Agricultural ecosystem the way we do best by creating resilient markets for our agricultural produce. We will be there soon,” Muli said.
Caption : Ivan Meyer – Minister of Agriculture of the Western Cape Government + Dr Edward Mabaya- Manager Agribusiness Development Division
Credit: African Development Bank
The Benefits of Honeybees
Bee- Image: Forbes
Imagine if all the honey bees in the world disappeared today. We would lose more than just honey. The benefits of honey bees goes beyond providing beeswax and honey.
There are over 20,000 species of bees in the world but it is only the honeybee that makes honey. They are also known for constructing nests for wax, the large size of their colony (each colony has about 60,000 honeybees), and their production and storage of honey.
The honey bee colony consists of the drones, the worker bee, and the queen bee. The worker bees are the largest population in the colony and are responsible for feeding larvae, foraging for pollen and nectar, tending to the queen and the drones and defending the nest for the survival of the colony. Their average lifespan is six weeks.
The queen bee is the only bee that can lay eggs. They lay up to 2,000 eggs a day and can live for up to five years. The queen bee can mate early in life and store millions of sperm within their bodies. The only job of the drone bees is to fertilize the queen bee and they die immediately after mating. Some other facts about honey bees are:
- Honey bees gather nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey.
- The average honey bee will make only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
- If the queen bee dies, the hive can produce an “emergency queen” by selecting a young larva from the previous queen and feeding it a special food called “royal jelly” so it can develop into a fertile queen.
- The buzz sound from honeybees is made by their wings, which can beat 11,400 times per minute.
- The honeybee is the only insect that produces food we can eat.
Benefits of Honeybees
One of the main benefits of honeybees are their functions as insect pollinators. While flowers provide bees with nectar and pollen to feed the colonies, bees help spread pollen between flowers in a process known as pollination. Without pollination, plants would be unable to create seeds and this could affect feeding for humans.
Worker bees, whose jobs are to feed the colony, collect nectar. Nectar is the sweet liquid substance that flowers produce to attract bees or other animals.The honeybees’ fuzzy bodies are used to collect pollen.
Pollen is a powder which contains the male genetic material of flowering plants. This pollen rubs off on flowers which they collect nectar from. This pollen transfer makes it possible to fertilize ovaries and enable reproduction. Plants are then able to produce fruits and seeds.
Although some plants are self pollinating or depend on the wind for pollination, most depend on pollinators such as honey bees. Therefore taking away bees would mean a huge decline in the availability of food and fruits.
- Production of Honey
Production of honey is one of the popular benefits of honeybees. Worker bees collect nectar from flowers by using their proboscis to suck it out and storing it in their stomachs to take to the beehive. While in the bee’s stomach, the nectar mixes with an enzyme produced by the bees, thus converting the nectar to honey.
The bees further drop the honey into the beeswax comb, which are produced by the bees, and repeat this process till the combs are full. For long term storage, the bees fan their wings to thicken the honey and when this is done, they cap the honeycomb with wax and move on to the next comb to start over.
You can use honey in just about any cooking method from grilling to baking. It is also a good substitute for sugar as it is more natural. Some of its non-edible uses include skin treatments and as an antioxidant.
- Byproducts of Bees
Honey is not the only good thing that comes out of bees. They also produce a natural wax known as beeswax. This happens when the glands of the worker bees convert the sugar content in honey into wax.
The beeswax comes out from the bee’s small pores to produce tiny flakes of wax on their abdomen. The worker bees chew these pieces of wax until they become soft and moldable and then add them to the honeycomb construction.
People use beeswax to make candles, wax wood furniture, polishing, and for waterproofing leather. They also use it in skin care products. Other byproducts of bees include royal jelly, mead, and bee bread.
Did we leave anything out? Let us know what else you benefit from honeybees.
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