Earth Day 2023

Regenerative Farming – time for a change in Mindset

4/20/20236 min read

On this Earth Day, it is time to broaden the mindset about Regenerative Farming. This blog proposes an alternative to current thinking, and in this blog, I present a real working model that can make a big difference and impact.

The call of Earth Day 2023 is the need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably). Businesses, governments, and citizens — everyone accounted for and accountable. A partnership for the planet.

Get Inspired. Take Action. Be a part of the green revolution.

Sounds very noble, and in this blog, I want to share some insights at Regenerative farming and some low-hanging fruit to make a big change. The website of Earth Day highlights the challenges of Farming in the US. The picture in Europe is probably not much better. In addition, there is a chemical and pesticide problem; both key markets are propped up with huge subsidiaries. The challenge is to manage them to create a greater level of Food Biodiversity – reliable sourcing, healthier produce, No or less chemicals and pesticides of fresh produce.

Just like we buy clothing made in developing countries, the solution is to be found by importing fresh produce from developing countries in Africa and Asia.

Consumers want produce free of chemicals/pesticides and help “poor” farmers in Africa and Asia.

Regenerative farming offers solutions to transform farmers into environmental and societal heroes.

Taking a leaf out of the EU Playbook, these are the Parameters of EU Agriculture biodiversity and strong biosecurity system:

1. Biodiversity conservation: The EU aims to preserve and enhance biodiversity in agriculture through the promotion of sustainable farming practices, the protection of natural habitats, and the use of agroforestry systems.

2. Plant health: The EU has measures in place to protect crops and plants from pests and diseases, including the use of integrated pest management, plant quarantine, and the monitoring of invasive species.

3. Food safety: The EU has a comprehensive food safety system, including regulations for the production, processing, and distribution of food, as well as controls on residues of pesticides, veterinary drugs, and other contaminants.

4. Traceability and labelling: The EU have regulations for the traceability and labelling of food products, which allow consumers to make informed choices and ensure the safety and quality of the food they consume.

5. Environmental protection: The EU encourages sustainable farming practices that protect the environment, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the promotion of organic farming, and the protection of soil and water resources.

In short, there is a need for Biodiversity. The global south and emerging markets can meet this.

African smallholder farmers can play a significant role in increasing EU agriculture biodiversity.

Overall, the collaboration between African smallholder farmers and the EU can lead to mutual benefits in biodiversity, sustainable farming, and market access.

However, there are major pain points/problems that needs to be solved.

Most efforts of the EU and other organisations to support African small hold farmers fail mainly due to:

  • Quality - Biosecurity, chemical residues, product quality

  • Quantity – lack of aggregation from many small holders and low yields per hectare

  • Access to market – inability to reach export markets (i.e., Europe)

Until today the EU and other organisations have given money, technology and marketing and all efforts have failed. Exports from Africa are still insignificant. The value chain from these developing economy smallholders to premium markets is broken or missing.

The solution is a complete model working with the African small farm holders to:

  • Improve quality to meet European Standards

  • Increase exported quantity:

  • Increased yield per hectare

  • Aggregation from many farmers

  • Marketing & Sales to EU Markets

For example, we will use Mango as our model crop as it is high value and faces unique challenges, but Citrus, Avocados, Olives, and Grapes are a few further examples where this applies.

In this blog, I will introduce you to Dream Valley, whose Agro solution presents an opportunity for a reliable source of produce free of Bio Security Hazards (plant protection). Currently, there are limited or no exports from Africa and Asia. Dream Valley aims to solve this problem by providing a Reliable year-round supply.

Dream Valley specifically addresses the solution to developing countries as this is the area of greatest impact and opportunity. This provides a source of biodiversity and healthier produce for European consumers and strengthens the EU-Africa relationship and commitments. And offers a strong business and investment case.

The result, Resilient Agriculture, Food Security, and Agro business models with a host of benefits for the environment and society.

The Dream Valley mission includes tackling the challenges of poverty in smallholder farming, regenerative agriculture, food waste, substantially increasing in food productivity (quantity + quality) on current farming yields and development of new commercial farms, biodiversity, and security in developing countries.

The current solutions and their limitations

Value Chain

The value chain from underdeveloped economies’ small-hold farmers to premium markets is broken or missing. As a result, 97% (550 million) of global farmers can't reach retailers in Europe and North America. Despite the best efforts of organisations such Agra, the provision of technologies farmers remains poor. They have no access to premium markets.

The ability to produce quality, biosecurity produces and access to premium (export) markets are major challenges.

Key areas here are Bio Security, overcoming export bans, and extending shelf life.

Quantity - there are few efforts of aggregation from many of the smallholders to gain a critical mass of produce for export.

Business Model - $ Income per Hectare

The average income for mango farmers in developing countries ranges from €2,000 to €10,000 per hectare per year. In contrast, in developed countries, the average income can be much higher, ranging from €20,000 to € 50,000 per hectare per year.

Dream Valley aims to increase the quantity and quality of farmers’ yields substantially, resulting in sustainable agro-business.

Higher output and lower food waste result in higher income and a substantially smaller environmental footprint.

Farmers lose 60% in return per kg plus 90% in yield loss due to the inability to get professional support in crop production and protection. Hence, the overall economic loss is over 90% of the potential income.

Quantity - low yields per hectare

Loss of produce is caused by Fruit Flies. This is an important pain point that needs to be addressed.

Fruit flies can be a significant problem for mango production in Africa and throughout the world, as they can cause significant damage to the fruit and reduce yield. Several species of fruit flies can infest mangoes in Africa, including the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) and the mango fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis).

Access to Premium Markets

Due to the Bio Security considerations mainly caused by pests (Fruit Flies), Importers and leading supermarkets are reluctant to engage with current producers. There is a lack of trust, and this is a huge barrier of entry. Africa, because if its location and climate and proximately to Europe, represent a unique opportunity for African Farmers and European Consumers to connect.

Finance / Investment in Agro Projects

There is a historical mistrust of doing business in Africa. Add to this Agriculture and smallholder farmers. The result is a minefield of risks. The challenge is to find the right path to cross this minefield. This will open a more secure investment environment.

Environmental concerns

Not only is there a huge loss of produce, but current methods to solve this problem involves pesticides, chemicals and sprays, which are both costly and require a lot of maintenance and labour.

The Farm to Fork Strategy is at the heart of the European Green Deal, aiming to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally friendly. Currently, there is chemical residue on the produce.

The use of pesticides in agriculture contributes to soil, water and air pollution. The Commission will act to:

reduce by 50% the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 2030.

reduce by 50% the use of more hazardous pesticides by 2030.

The Dream Valley value proposition.

The solution is a dedicated model for working with small-hold farmers to improve their income per hectare. Dream Valley looks to improve produce quality and quantity, extend the harvest season, brand, and sell in premium markets.

The model includes the following:

Farmers Commitment (microfinance) - a small subscription fee and commitment to selling their future produce through Dream Valley channels allowing farmers to receive multiple credits for all services and technology.

Farmers receive (inputs) - access to technologies as a service, enabling them to increase the sellable quantity and quality according to strict standards.

Farm to Fork (supply chain) - Dream Valley Model allows farmers to harvest at the optimal time, better packaging, and more fruit to sell through the Dream Valley supply chain directly to premium domestic and global markets.

Payment (profits) - Dream Valley pays farmers, value/supply chain technology, and service providers after selling the fruits.

Investing in developing markets provides a unique opportunity to support small farm holders and contribute to the growth of this sector.

With the growing demand for quality produce, significant potential for growth, and a large pool of small farm holders looking for opportunities to increase income, this is an attractive investment opportunity for investors.