With a provision of $20,000 to Reach the Children, Andy Nahas and The Prospect Fund will help construct a structure for the processing, drying, and shipping of locally grown fruit. Training in fruit dryer operation and market connections will be provided to a local farmers association managing and operating the project after its establishment. 'Social Engineering' from a proven community development methodology will be used to insure effective implementation, monitoring, reporting, and training. The 'social engineering' component will help facilitate self-sufficient processes that will continue after the project is formally concluded. This is a production implementation of a successful pilot project to prove the model; furthermore, a successful production implementation will enable rollout of many additional CEI's following this model.
Since initial discussions between CEOs of The Prospect Fund and Reach the Children at CGI in 2006, the two have sought meaningful ways to incorporate lessons from panels and speakers as well as networking with other interested organizations, corporations, and individuals in order to work in CGI focus areas.
Building on the past success of a pilot project in Kenya with fresh vegetables, Reach the Children, Reach the Children-UK, and Reach the Children-Uganda will be the implementation partners. Using the model of the Community Empowerment Initiative to provide sustainable employment to fund local health and education programs, the Prospect Fund and Reach the Children, RTC-UK, and RTC-Uganda are joining to make CGI goals of poverty alleviation and improved global health a reality from the grass roots.
Community Empowerment Initiatives (CEIs) are an integral part of several Reach the Children programs in Africa. Ugandan and Kenyan CEIs bring African-grown produce to African and European markets, bringing much needed capital to the originating communities. Those participating in and receiving the benefits of the CEIs receive training in the processing, marketing, and administration of these small business ventures. Local farmers receive additional agricultural training and support. CEIs fund other charitable and development efforts in Africa. Programs funded by CEIs include local primary education programs, orphan care, and health initiatives as well as other CEIs and micro-enterprises.
Reach the Children has a pilot project with the Kayunga Farmers' Association to use solar dryers as an adjunct to traditional sun drying methods for the production of export-quality dried pineapple to the European market.
Traditional open air methods expose the fruit to dust, insects and bird droppings, lowering the value of the fruit. The only other alternative for the farmers had previously been to sell the bulk fruit to other wholesalers at a much lower market price than for premium dried pineapple.
The average farmer using the current generation of solar dryers produces, on average, 45 kilograms of dried pineapple per month. The sales price averages 5,500 Uganda shillings per kg, which calculates to approximately $1,747 USD per year at current exchange rates. This is an attractive wage compared to their prior income of under $500 per year, and it is above the Uganda average GDP per capita of $1,100 per year. These are still poor farmers, but they are able to feed their children, educate them, provide health care, etc. As is common in this part of the world, each income-producer typically supports 6-16 people. Even at lower-than-expected volumes from this pilot model, this is a success story. We expect to have income levels quite a bit higher for each farmer in the future as we have enough volume to sell directly to Europe and the U.K. and bypass the middlemen.
The pilot project concludes with the implementation of dryers, demonstration of product quality and supplier relationships to buyers. (Phase 2) The Kayunga Farmer's Association and Reach the Children will continue to work on high volume processes.