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Imagine a scene where trucks laden with tomatoes form an unexpected blockade outside a bustling wholesale market. This powerful image wasn't a staged spectacle; it was a stark representation of the challenges faced by tomato farmers. Struggling with low returns for their hard-earned produce, these farmers were caught in a complex web of domestic and international trade dynamics. Unfortunately, this scenario wasn't a one-time event – this has been a recurring struggle for tomato farmers in Nepal.
The journey of tomato prices in Nepal resembles a rollercoaster ride, marked by extreme lows and record highs. At one point in late June, Nepali farmers were left disheartened by a farmgate price of NPR 10 per kg, while retail prices soared to NPR 35-40 per kg. This dramatic disparity forced farmers to take to the streets, protesting by discarding their harvest in a desperate plea for fair returns.
Fast forward to the present, and the narrative has taken an unexpected twist. Tomato prices have skyrocketed to unprecedented levels, not due to scarcity within Nepal, but due to external factors. India, Nepal's neighboring country, is grappling with a tomato shortage linked to climate change-related challenges, which has caused prices to surge.
Interestingly, this shortage across the border has opened doors of opportunity for Nepali farmers. As tomato prices rise in India, enterprising Nepali traders are capitalizing on this gap by exporting tomatoes across the border. This surge in demand from India has led to a corresponding increase in prices in Nepal, creating a win-win situation for local farmers.
However, the central question remains: how can Nepali farmers sustainably leverage these favorable market conditions? The answer lies in innovative solutions like Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP). MAP possess the potential to revolutionize the game for farmers, providing them with the means to extend the shelf life of their produce without relying on refrigeration.
*watch our video to see results- click here.
The brilliance of MAP lies in their ability to create a modified environment around the produce. This modified atmosphere slows down the ripening process, thereby preserving the freshness and quality of the produce over an extended period. Recent trials by Mandala Agrifresh on this season's tomatoes have unveiled a significant finding – tomatoes harvested at different stages (breaker, turning and pink stage) and packaged in MAP can be safely stored at room temperature (approx. 25oC) for more than 16 days.
The allure of MAP transcends their ability to extend post-harvest life. These bags empower farmers and traders to explore new markets, both locally and internationally. By safeguarding firmness, color, and flavor, MAP enable farmers to reach markets that were once distant dreams. This transformation isn't just about boosting profits; it's about minimizing post-harvest losses and ensuring that farmers' efforts are rightfully rewarded.
The power of MAP isn't solely tied to the prospect of future price hikes. Instead, it embodies a holistic approach to revolutionizing the agricultural landscape. By embracing innovation, farmers can tap into markets that were once beyond their reach. In a world that prizes freshness and quality, this paradigm shift is nothing short of monumental.
The efficacy of MAP isn't confined to theoretical claims; it's validated by real-world successes and empirical evidence. By embracing pioneering technologies like MAP, farmers can escape the cycle of market fluctuations and the burden of low prices. This shift empowers them to engage confidently with the market, ensuring that their hard work results in rewarding outcomes and their produce reaches consumers in optimal condition.
So, the next time you savor a juicy tomato, ponder the journey it undertook to grace your plate. It carries with it the tale of farmers embracing innovation, seizing control of their destiny, and crafting a future teeming with potential. The power of MAP bags extends beyond preserving tomatoes; it's about empowering farmers to script their own tales of success.
Picture yourself waking up before sunrise and carrying your harvested vegetables to the market, only to discover that there is no demand for your agro-produce. You are compelled to sell your harvest at a low price since you cannot store and preserve your produce to sell it tomorrow, nor are you able to take your produce to a distant market where there is a demand. For millions of smallholder farmers in Nepal, this helplessness is an everyday reality. Already dealing with obstacles like erratic weather patterns and market unpredictability, the well-being of farmers is severely disturbed by limited market access.
In Nepal, post-harvest loss is estimated to be around 30-40%. Alas, the grueling labor of farmers goes in vain as a major portion of their fruit and vegetable production is lost before reaching the consumers. Moreover, this loss also has an adverse economic and environmental impact. Mandala Agrifresh, a post-harvest management company on a mission to tackle this issue, is enabling farmers access to low-cost technologies that enable them to reach distant markets by keeping the produce fresh for longer without the need to invest in cold storage.
In March 2023, Mandala Agrifresh conducted a pilot of Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) bags with an agriculture cooperative in Dailekh, Nepal. The cooperative, which has close to 300 members, operates a vegetable collection center to provide market access to its member farmers. But the cooperative was facing numerous challenges in efficiently operating the collection center and managing its supply chain due to the lack of knowledge and access to proper post-harvest management technologies and practices. This prevented them from distributing the produce to distant markets, both within and outside the district. As such, despite having cold rooms to store the vegetables, the cooperative faced huge post-harvest losses since there was only limited demand for vegetables in the local market. This meant that the farmers were losing a significant portion of their income due to the lack of market access.
To address these challenges, Mandala Agrifresh provided post-harvest management training to the cooperative and their farmers. They were taught about post-harvest management practices and how adopting such practices would bring efficiency to their overall supply chain. The company also provided the farmers and the cooperative with MAP bags and educated them on techniques to incorporate MAP bags into their existing supply chain. MAP bags are designed to preserve the quality of fresh vegetables by reducing the respiration rate of the produce. The MAP bags are simple, easy to use and do not require farmers to make substantial changes to their current post-harvest practices, making them an ideal solution for rural smallholder farmers in Nepal.
Following the training, the farmers and the cooperative conducted the piloting of MAP bags in their supply chain with great results. The adoption of better post-harvest management practices along with the adoption of MAP bags enabled the farmers and the cooperative to keep the leafy greens and other vegetables fresh for longer. Farmers now harvest the produce and package it in MAP bags. This has enabled farmers and the cooperative to keep the leafy green vegetables fresh for 2-3 days. This increase in the shelf life of fresh produce under ambient conditions has enabled the cooperative to reach distant markets like Surkhet, which was not possible otherwise. Access to distant markets has enabled the cooperative to get higher prices for their produce, increasing the income of the farmers. The cooperative has now increased the collection of vegetables from the farmers and has quadrupled the volume of sales.
At the same time, the shelf-life extension of vegetables using MAP bags has significantly empowered farmers by giving them more control over their sales decisions. Farmers can now wait for market conditions to improve before selling their produce, ultimately increasing their profits. Moreover, the use of MAP bags has also helped farmers save time and reduce costs associated with transporting their produce to the market. Farmers now have the option to aggregate their harvest over a day or two before taking the produce to the market, reducing the number of trips they need to make. This has saved them time and also reduced the cost of transportation, leading to an increase in profitability.
Overall, the pilot conducted by Mandala Agrifresh was a huge success, as it helped the cooperative improve its post-harvest management practices and connect with distant markets. The use of simple and easy-to-use technology like MAP bags proved to be an effective solution to address post-harvest management challenges and reduce post-harvest losses. This partnership with the cooperative is an initial milestone in Mandala Agrifresh's mission to reduce post-harvest loss in Nepal. By reducing food loss, Mandala Agrifresh is contributing to a more efficient and sustainable supply chain, ultimately empowering farmers by improving their livelihoods and ensuring a better future for their families.
We are thrilled to share with you the success story of our recent collaboration with farmers in the high hills of Upper Bokkim in Bhojpur district, Nepal. Mandala Agrifresh has been working to connect farmers with distant markets, and we are proud to have achieved this goal with our latest project.
Broad leaf mustard, known locally as rayo ko saag, is a popular leafy green in Nepal. However, the farmers in Upper Bokkim faced challenges in transporting their produce to markets in Kathmandu due to the short shelf life of the produce. But thanks to the introduction of Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) bags, we were able to help these farmers reach new markets.
MAP bags are designed to control the atmosphere inside the bags and maintain the freshness of produce, which extends its shelf life. Our MAP bags can reduce weight loss in leafy greens by more than 600% and increase the shelf-life of leafy green vegetables by more than 3 times under ambient conditions. We provided these bags to the farmers and trained them on proper packaging and transport methods. The farmers carefully packed their freshly harvested mustard greens into the MAP bags and placed them in cardboard boxes for transport.
The impact of MAP bags was significant, reducing weight loss, wilting, and spoilage during the two-day journey to Kathmandu. As a result, the farmers were able to transport their produce without any spoilage, and the quality of the produce was maintained. This success led to positive feedback from buyers in Kathmandu, impressed by the quality and taste of the produce.
The use of MAP bags also had a positive impact on the profitability of the farmers. With the ability to keep their produce fresh for longer, they were able to sell it at a higher price in Kathmandu, making a greater profit. For the first time, the farmers of Bhojpur were successful in selling their fresh broad leaf mustard in Kathmandu, opening up new opportunities for them to earn a better income and improve their livelihoods.
At Mandala Agrifresh, we are committed to introducing technologies like MAP bags to farmers in rural areas and building a more sustainable agriculture supply chain in Nepal. This trial has shown that the use of MAP bags is a game-changer for connecting farmers with distant markets, extending the shelf life of fresh vegetables, improving the profitability of farmers, and reducing food waste.
We are proud to have supported the farmers in Bhojpur, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to create a more sustainable agriculture supply chain in Nepal.
Did you know that it takes 1,800 liters of water to produce 1 Kg of mango? This fact is not meant to increase your IQ! This is an alarm to bring your attention to the burning issue of Food Loss where we are losing a lot more than we can imagine.
Saptari, the mango capital of Nepal, produces about 114,898 metric tons of mangoes every year. Sadly, about 40% (45.9 million kgs) of them are lost (damage and spoilage) before reaching consumers due to poor supply chain management practices. Imagine the total amount in monetary terms: very upsetting isn’t it?
This summer, Mandala Agrifresh is on a mission to build a more efficient and sustainable supply chain for mangoes. We are working closely with mango farmers in Saptari to help them adopt modern post-harvest management technologies. We believe that by teaching farmers how they can keep their mangoes fresh for longer, Mandala Agrifresh can reduce the number of mangoes that are lost before it reaches our consumers.
We are committed to delivering the best quality mangoes to you while ensuring our farmers make the most out of their production. Together, we can create a brighter future for farmers, consumers, and the planet. Join us on our journey as we strive to build a better supply chain management system in Nepal and address the pressing issue of food loss.
To know more, please contact us at 9741688523, 9803011968.