International Development Project An Exploration of Post-Harvest Perishable Food Loss in Bangladesh Dhaka & Amsterdam 2, October 2013
A collaboration between:
Fathema Zhura Khatoon
Jan de Haan
Zainu Sadia Islam
Fakir Md. Yunus
Bart Jan Sonneveld
Md. Azhar Uddin
Marziana Mahfuz Nandita
This report is intended for: Researchers, professionals and policy makers with an interest in the current state of and possible solutions for the loss of perishable vegetables at different stakeholder levels in the supply chain in different geographic regions of Bangladesh.
This report should be cited as: BRAC & Sefa (2013) â€˜International development project: An Exploration of Post-Harvest Perishable Food Loss in Bangladeshâ€™, Dhaka
Acknowledgements The authors would like to thank the following people and organizations for the invaluable insights they provided for this paper: Ifty Ahmed and Adnan Shihab of Bengal Solar Sridar Darmapuri of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Ted Duivestijn of Duivestijn Selim Reza Hasan of Solidaridad Lien and Rob Jongkees of Parasol Sudip Kumar Sahar of Brac Solar Chris Muller of Cofely Sudhir Chandra Nath of BRAC Agriculture and Food Security Habibur Rahman of Brac Cold Storage Lisette Blum and Jan Willem Nibbering of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands And a big thank you to: Andrew Jenkins of BRAC Research and Evaluation Division Jochem Miggelbrink and the Amsterdam University Fund Simon and Aster de Haan
For your support and making this project possible!
Contents Chapter 1 - Introduction ............................................................................................................10 Chapter 2 - Literature Review ....................................................................................................12 2.1 Introduction .....................................................................................................................12 2.2 Global food loss.................................................................................................................12 2.2.1 The tragedy of food loss......................................................................................................... 12 2.2.2 Food loss vs. food waste ........................................................................................................ 13 2.3 Market context in Bangladesh ...........................................................................................15 2.3.1 Agricultural sector in Bangladesh .......................................................................................... 15 2.3.2 Market context ....................................................................................................................... 16 2.3.3 Supply chain and stakeholders ............................................................................................... 17 2.3.4 Supply chain analysis of important crops .............................................................................. 19 2.4 Losses of perishable fruits and vegetables ..........................................................................20 2.4.1 Food loss in Bangladesh: the status quo ................................................................................ 20 2.4.2 Supply chain analysis of food loss ......................................................................................... 24 2.5 Methods identified to address food loss ..............................................................................26 2.5.1 Solutions identified in literature ............................................................................................. 26 2.5.2 Existing practical storage solutions in Bangladesh ................................................................ 31 2.6 The solar panel solution ....................................................................................................34 2.6.1 The potential of solar energy in Bangladesh .......................................................................... 34 2.6.2 Drying .................................................................................................................................... 35 2.6.3 Cooling................................................................................................................................... 36 2.6.4 Case studies ............................................................................................................................ 37 2.6.5 Current use of solar energy in Bangladesh ............................................................................ 39 Chapter 3 - Methodology .............................................................................................................40 3.1 Study field ........................................................................................................................40 3.2 Data collection methods.....................................................................................................41 3.3 Sampling ..........................................................................................................................42 3.4 Data collection ..................................................................................................................43 3.5 Data analysis.....................................................................................................................43
3.6 Ethical considerations .......................................................................................................44 Chapter 4 - Findings Objective 1 ................................................................................................45 4.1 Introduction .....................................................................................................................45 4.2 General overview of stakeholder relationships ...................................................................46 4.3 Rural ................................................................................................................................47 4.3.1 Arathdar ................................................................................................................................. 47 4.4 Semi-urban .......................................................................................................................48 4.4.1 Activities of medium holder farmers ..................................................................................... 48 4.4.3 Activities of Arathdars ........................................................................................................... 49 4.5 Urban ...............................................................................................................................50 4.5.1 Arathdar ................................................................................................................................. 50 4.5.2 Day labourers (out of supply chain) ....................................................................................... 51 4.6 Bepari ..............................................................................................................................52 Chapter 5 - Findings objective 2 .................................................................................................58 5.1 Introduction .....................................................................................................................58 5.2 Value to stakeholders ........................................................................................................59 5.3 Location findings of specific stakeholder relationships ............................................................ 60 5.4 Analysis of objective 2 .......................................................................................................65 5.4.1 Analysis of (non)value of cold storage facility ...................................................................... 65 5.4.2 Analysis of stakeholder relationships: bargaining power ...................................................... 66 5.4.3 Point of intervention............................................................................................................... 67 5.5 Conclusion objective 2 .......................................................................................................69 5.6 Recommendations objective 2 ............................................................................................70 5.6.1 Model 1 .................................................................................................................................. 70 5.6.2 Model 2 .................................................................................................................................. 72 5.6.3 Model 3 .................................................................................................................................. 72 5.7 Recommendations ..................................................................................................................... 73 5.8 Limitations to the pilot programme initiation ........................................................................... 73 Chapter 6 - Findings of objective 3 .............................................................................................74 6.1 Introduction .....................................................................................................................74 6.2 General market context .....................................................................................................75 6.3 Jessore: a valuable case study ............................................................................................77 6.4 Technical feasibility ..........................................................................................................79
6.5 Economic feasibility ..........................................................................................................81 6.6 Government policy ............................................................................................................82 6.7 Analysis objective 3 ...........................................................................................................84 6.8 Conclusion objective 3 .......................................................................................................85 Chapter 7 - Concluding remarks ................................................................................................88 Chapter 8 - Limitations ..............................................................................................................90 Bibliography..............................................................................................................................92
List of Tables Table 1: Per cent increase in commodity price from harvest to retail sale ____________________ 19 Table 2 : Causes of post-harvest losses of vegetables and fruits ______________________________ 23 Table 3: Post-harvest losses at different levels of the supply chain ____________________________ 25 Table 4: Temperature, relative humidity and approximate storage life of fruits and vegetables 29 Table 5: Temperature, relative humidity and approximate storage life of important vegetables 84
List of Figures Figure 1: FAO Estimation of Hunger Worldwide ___________________________________ 13 Figure 2: Per capita food losses and waste (kg/year) at the consumption and pre-consumption stages in different regions ______________________________________________________ 14 Figure 3: Typical Existing Food Supply Chain in Bangladesh _________________________ 18 Figure 4: Loss of fruits and Vegetables ___________________________________________ 22 Figure 5: supply chain Post Harvest Loss for Tomato ________________________________ 24 Figure 6: supply chain Post Harvest Loss for Potato_________________________________ 24 Figure 7: Earthen cooling pot system ____________________________________________ 31 Figure 8: Ambient Potato Storage _______________________________________________ 32 Figure 9: Improved- Ambient Potato Storage ______________________________________ 33 Figure 10: Map of Bangladesh _________________________________________________ 40 Figure 11: Use of hook in Kawran bazar __________________________________________ 53 Figure 12: Reasons for post-harvest losses of perishable vegetables ____________________ 55 Figure 13: Improved packaging vs traditional packaging in Urban wholesale market_______ 56 Figure 14: Illustration of the relationships between stakeholders in Manikganj ____________ 63 Figure 15: Illustration of the relationships between stakeholders in Jessore ______________ 65 Figure 18: The cold storage facility in Jessore _____________________________________ 78
List of Terms Arath: A space where trading takes place Arathdar: Commission agent Bepari: Middleman/Intermediary BARI: Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute BBS: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics
GDP: Gross Domestic Product FAO: Food and Agriculture Organization
Faria: Small Middleman/Intermediary FGD: Focus Group Discussion IDI: In Depth Interview KII: Key Informant Interview
WFP: World Food Program IFAD: International Fund for Agricultural Development
Abstract This report investigates the loss of perishable vegetables at different stakeholder levels in the supply chain in different geographic regions of Bangladesh; namely Jessore, Manikganj and Dhaka, stratified as examples of the rural, semi-urban and urban contexts. The study goes further by investigating the potential added value of cold storage facilities and the effect its introduction may have on different stakeholder relationships. The study then addresses the potential of utilizing solar powered energy to facilitate the introduction of cold storage. The use of solar energy was investigated as it was identified as a high potential solution to current energy limitations in Bangladesh. The study was qualitative in nature using standard data collection techniques - In Depth Interviews (IDIs), Key Informant Interviews (KIIs), Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and direct observations for the triangulation of information. The study concludes that perishable vegetable loss occurs due to diverse though interlinked reasons between different stakeholders and varies according to geographic location. Despite loss being pervasive throughout the supply chain, the perceived value of cold storage solutions was conversely found to be low. The stakeholder relationships were found to be a potent factor that requires due consideration prior to intervention and farmers were identified as a particularly disadvantaged and vulnerable stakeholder group. In this situation the potential of utilizing cold storage facilities at the farmer or Arathdar level were nonetheless found to be viable solutions. Finally, solar panels for agricultural commercial practices were not found to be currently economically and technically feasible for smallholder1 practices but may be in the future due to a number of factors including the increasing efficiency and decreasing price of solar cells and changing government strategy.
Farmers with an operated area of 0.05 to 2.49 acres of land (Agriculture Census, 2008)
Chapter 1 – Introduction Food, one of the five basic needs, is scarce in different parts of the world, especially in developing and underdeveloped countries. One of many dimensions of poverty is hunger and malnutrition. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO, WFP and IFAD, 2012) 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, was suffering from chronic undernourishment between 2010 and 2012. Almost all the hungry people, 852 million, live in developing countries, representing 15% of the population of developing countries. With regards to developed countries there are 16 million undernourished people (FAO, WFP and IFAD, 2012). Though the production of food is more than what is needed to solve hunger and malnutrition, the issue of world hunger is a complex issue that relates in part to the allocation of food and production amongst other factors. A phenomenon exacerbating this state of affairs is ‘food losses’. Once considered a ‘basket case’, Bangladesh has become a success story amongst developing countries regarding various development indicators, whilst still trying to overcome other development challenges that have hampered it since its independence. Although an approximate 45% of the labour force works in agriculture, this sector only contributes to 17.5% of GDP (CIA, 2013). Despite this sector’s share being relatively low in terms of its contribution to GDP when we compare it to the manufacturing (30%) and services (52%) sector, it is still experiencing positive growth is 11.24% in 2009-10 (BBS 2010). The country is a net importer of rice though it is the major crop of the country as 78% of its cultivable land is devoted to the production of rice. Since 1980s vegetables and fruits are being exported from Bangladesh to 25 countries including KSA, UAE, Qatar, Oman, etc. and United Kingdom (M. R. Karim, et. al, 2011) and trend is increasing every year.
Several studies found that with increasing production, losses are also increasing proportionately. Post-harvest losses of fruits and vegetables were found to be 25-50% (Amiruzzaman, 1990). Another study investigated by Miaruddin and Shahjahan (2008) that post-harvest losses of fruits and vegetables was about 25-40% (Hassan, 2010).
Several technologies exist to address the loss of perishable products. The usually practiced storage methods include low temperature storage, controlled atmosphere (CA) storage and modified atmosphere (MA) storage. Although it is widely accepted that these storage systems increase the durability of perishables these technologies are not without challenges. Largely adopted, low temperature storage is accompanied by several requirements for it to function properly including, for instance, a continuous supply of electricity, proper maintenance and huge amount of investments (FAO Corporate Document Repository, 2013).
Until now, Bangladesh has introduced these technologies on a very limited scale and for perishable agricultural products cold storage facilities are non-existent. It leaves both possibilities and challenges for the country to reduce food loss through incorporating those technologies and improving the performance of the agricultural sector by a substantial amount. The efficacy of such technologies remain questionable in Bangladesh, this is evident by the fact that the authors have found few studies engaged in this subject. It is important to investigate the effectiveness, applicability and utility of these modern technologies before making the required investment and to be aware of how such technologies could impact existing stakeholders.
Hence the following study seeks to investigate on a qualitative level the issue of post-harvest losses along the agricultural supply chain of perishable vegetables in Bangladesh. Through stakeholder and expert interviews the study investigates the causes of loss and the potential effect of a cold storage solution on relevant stakeholder groups. Solar panel powered cold storage is investigated as a particular potential technological energy solution for cold storage as identified through the extant literature.
The study objectives are as follows: Objective 1: To explore the perishable food loss problem at the farmer, Bepari and Arathdar level in Bangladesh. Objective 2: To explore the potential added value of cold storage facility and their affect on stakeholder relationships and bargaining power. Objective 3: To identify the potential of utilizing solar powered cold storage facility in Bangladesh.
Chapter 2 - Literature Review 2.1 Introduction The following literature review begins by overviewing the issue of food loss on a global scale. The second section of this literature review will introduce the issue of global food waste and discuss the terminological difference between ‘food loss’ and’ food waste’. The third chapter will provide a contextual overview of the agricultural sector in Bangladesh and identify the role of stakeholders in the supply chain of selected crops. Next, an overview of the food loss of perishable vegetables in Bangladesh will be given and the fifth chapter will discuss a number of potential solutions. The potential of solar energy for drying and cold storage facilities, identified as one of the most promising avenues, will be presented in the last chapter.
2.2 Global food loss 2.2.1 The tragedy of food loss According to measures of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) around 925 million people worldwide mostly living in developing countries are undernourished. Unfortunately, there is a difference between producing enough food to feed everyone and ensuring food security for all (see figure 1).
It is estimated that roughly one third of all the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, counting for about 1.3 billion metric tons of food per annum (Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 2013). Post-harvest losses average between 24 and 40% in developing countries, and between 2 and 20% in developed countries (Sirivatanapa , 2004). In order to ensure a sustainable future for everyone, ‘the potential to provide 60-100% more food by simply eliminating losses, while simultaneously freeing up land, energy and water resources for other uses is an opportunity that should not be ignored’ (Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 2013). Especially with regard to the fact that the world population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050 on the demand side with intensified competition for finite land, water and energy resources on the production side.
Lowering food waste will therefore be an important focus in order to meet future challenges (The Government Office for Science, 2011). Reducing food loss and waste by improving the supply chain will lower the prices of food and thereby increase consumer purchasing power, with the lack thereof being a main reason for food insecurity. Figure 1: FAO estimation of hunger worldwide
Source: FAO & SIK, 2011
2.2.2 Food loss vs. food waste It is important to note that there is a terminological difference between ‘food loss’ and ‘food waste’. Food loss can be defined as ‘the decrease in edible food mass throughout the supply chain that specifically leads to edible food for human consumption’ (FAO & SIK, 2011) and can take place at post-harvesting and transport levels. In addition, food waste can be described as ‘food losses occurring at the end of the food chain (retail and final consumption) and relates to the retailers’ and consumers’ behaviour’ (Ibid.). Figure 2 shows an overview of the per capita food losses and waste in different parts of the world.
Figure 2: Per capita food losses and waste (kg/year) at the consumption and pre-consumption stages in different regions
Source: FAO & SIK, 2011
As can be seen from figure 2, compared to developing countries, a relatively high percentage of food is wasted through retailer and consumer behaviour in industrialized countries. In developing countries, food waste mainly occurs at the early post-harvest stage.
Food waste in mature developed countries is mainly due to the modern consumer culture. In meeting expectations arising from the modern consumer culture, supermarkets in industrialized countries display large quantities and a large choice of brands, which increases the likelihood that these products reach their â€˜sell-byâ€™ date without being sold and are therefore thrown away. Also, customers in industrialized countries are stimulated to buy excessive quantities in supermarkets as a result of sales promotions, which in most cases leads to food thrown away at home (Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 2013). Food wastage that results from these practices (222 million metric tons) in mature developed countries is almost as high as the total net
production of Sub Saharan Africa (230 million metric tons). In addition to food wastage on the consumer side, food is also lost on the production side in industrialized countries. This is mainly due to the fact that farmers tend to produce larger quantities than needed. Furthermore, farmers will often dispose of food when it does not meet set marketing standards related to their size and appearance (FAO & SIK, 2011).
Whereas decreasing food loss and wastage in industrialized countries is merely a case of increasing social and political awareness, food loss in developing countries tends to occur more as a result of agricultural and infrastructural inefficiencies and therefore is harder to achieve. Food loss in developing countries takes place primarily at the post-harvesting stage, due to ‘inefficient harvesting, inadequate local transportation and poor infrastructure’ and poor handling and conditions on farm sites (Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 2013). In addition to the producer side of the supply chain, a large quantity of food is also wasted on the wholesale market because of inadequate and unsanitary market facilities.
2.3 Market context in Bangladesh Food loss in Bangladesh stems from a number of different areas including farming methods and smallholder conditions as well as more macro conditions connected with the poverty-cycle and food security. This chapter will begin by providing a contextual overview of the agricultural sector in Bangladesh, focusing on the production of perishable vegetables. It will follow this by overviewing the market context in Bangladesh and what the available literature has to say about the different stakeholders and their bargaining positions.
2.3.1 Agricultural sector in Bangladesh While the industry and services sector are the country’s largest, Bangladesh’s economy is still strongly reliant on the agricultural sector as it contributes to nearly one fifth of the country’s GDP (CIA, 2013). Over the years the country’s growing population has resulted in a significant pull in demand for food produce. While some of this has been met in the country itself through the increase of yields, there has been a considerable increase in the amount of food (including rice, fruit and vegetables) imported into the country (Turner & Ali, 1996; Baqui, 2005). Nearly all-arable land was cultivated by the mid-1980s and yields were enhanced through increasing
cropping frequency/intensity to 150% (Turner & Ali, 1996) since increased to 179% (Quddus & Mia, 2010). Further increases in production were met in Bangladesh through technological improvements such as irrigation methods, use of fertilizer and pesticides (Turner & Ali, 1996).
Rice and Jute are the main cash crops in the country and are significant contributors to the economy. Other important crops include tea, sugarcane, oilseeds, fruits, vegetables, spices, wheat potatoes, and cotton (Baqui, 2005). Most crops have increased in production since 1994 to varying extents. Rice has seen a considerable increase in production and remains the dominant crop in Bangladesh with two-thirds of cultivable land being used to harvest the crop (Quddus & Mia, 2010). Fruits and vegetables have both increased in production, yet fruit production remains relatively small. Nonetheless between 1994 and 2007, the quantity of fruit harvested has more than doubled to 3.32 million tons between 2006 and 2007. The harvest of vegetables has also seen a large increase from 1.21 million tons in 1994-1995 to 10.332 million tons in 2008-2009 (ibid). While meat, milk and egg are all noted to have increased in production between these years as well.
For clarity crops are best separated into three categories, durable crops (e.g. cereals, oilseeds), semi-perishable crops (e.g. potato, onion) and perishable crops (e.g. apples, eggplant) (Baqui, 2005). The increase in production of the above-mentioned crops has in turn increased the amount of food lost in the food supply chain. As a durable crop, rice is not a significant contributor to post-harvest loss but with the growing production of perishable fruits and vegetables as well as animal products like milk, meat and eggs; the significance of post-harvest losses has increased (Quddus & Mia, 2010).
2.3.2 Market context Bangladeshâ€™s agricultural industry is largely consistent of smallholders and this element has been strongly tied to the persistence of agricultural losses. To a large extent this is systemic, low incomes associated with small land holdings do not allow for the necessary investment in technologies that could reduce waste such as transport containers and storage facilities, areas in which larger enterprises would be more capable to invest (Baqui, 2005; Khan, 2012).
Furthermore, farmers are widely dispersed and often lack affordable access to the necessary infrastructure to transport their crops to market quickly and efficiently (Rahman & Khan, 2005).
Another aspect of the dominance of smallholder production is the increased vulnerability of stakeholders on price fluctuations. Cyclical price fluctuations, while common in the agricultural industry, are nonetheless a significant issue, with effects on surrounding communities that are exacerbated by pervasive food loss. The price of agricultural products fluctuates during the year negatively impacting rural earnings of some landless and smallholder families. There are two periods during the year - between September and November and between March and April where rice harvest stocks decrease and prices increase (Amin & Farid, 2005). However, during these periods agricultural wages are conversely at a minimum due to lack of labour requirements for the land. So while wages are simultaneously lower food is scarcer and therefore more expensive. This phenomenon is responsible for periods of marginalization and malnutrition amongst small landless communities. Reducing food loss could help farmers to reduce these effects by smoothing the stocks -and thus earnings- between price peaks and troughs. In this regard the need to enhance the availability and efficiency of non-grain produce (i.e. fruits and vegetables) is seen as key to achieving this goal (Ibid.). In turn the welfare and security of communities could be improved (Ibid.).
2.3.3 Supply chain and stakeholders The nature of smallholder farming means that the supply chain consists of diverse groups of stakeholders. Key actor groups along the supply chain are farmers, Faria, Bepari, Arathdar and retailers (Das & Hanaoka, 2009). While the findings of our report will delve into these stakeholder groups more thoroughly, below is a brief overview of the understanding of the stakeholder groups from the extant literature.
Faria and Bepari are both traders, Faria however are small traders that deal with small volumes, while Bepari are professional traders that deal with larger quantities. The role of Arathdars can be described as market operators or agents who charge a fixed amount of commission and also provide temporary storage for fruits and vegetables. The understanding of the supply chain is that it does not follow a particular path and varies in length. In other words, retailers at the end of
the supply chain purchase their agricultural product from either Beparis, Arathdars or even directly from the farmers themselves (Ibid). The estimated division of product along the supply chain amongst these stakeholder groups are given in figure 3. Figure 3: Typical existing food supply chain in Bangladesh
Source: Adapted from Sabur, 1990
Ideally, storage facilities should be located at each of the loading and unloading points, and in the wholesale markets (Hassan, 2010). This is a critical problem in the present marketing system, especially for perishables like fruits and vegetables (Hassan, 2010). While Arathdars do provide a temporary storage location in the supply chain, they often lack the appropriate facilities to adequately store the product for longer periods (Khan, 2012). For farmers the lack of adequate storage facilities reduces their bargaining power as their produce quickly turns bad and farmers therefore are forced to sell at low prices (Khan, 2012).
In the presence of appropriate transport, infrastructure and storage facilities, it is possible that farmers would be able to bypass Faria and Bepari altogether (Hassan et al. 2010), thereby increasing their relative bargaining positioning.
2.3.4 Supply chain analysis of important crops â€˜Price of commodity at different levels of supply chain is very important in Bangladesh, where the commodity price varies quite significantly due to the engagement of numerous intermediaries in the systemâ€˜ (Hassan, 2010). As can be seen in table 1, on average the price of a product doubles between leaving the farmer and reaching the consumer. Especially remarkable is the case of Red Amaranth, where the price increase from the market channel was observed to be 235%. Table 1: Per cent increase in commodity price from harvest to retail sale
Source: Hassan, 2010
Md. Nurul Karim Bhuiyan from BRAC-AFSP (2012) investigated in some depth the profit margins of fruits and vegetables at different levels of the supply chain. The findings revealed that farmers do not get a fair price due to market syndications formed by market intermediaries (Faria, Bepari, commission agents and retailers). The study showed in some cases the
intermediaries receive about 50-55% of the retail value whereas farmers obtain about 15-25% of the total. In this sense reducing losses could help to increase the reduced earnings of farmers2.
2.4 Losses of perishable fruits and vegetables While it is understood that food loss is a problem in Bangladesh, there are only a few reliable figures that state the extent of the issue (Hassan et al. 2010). Nevertheless, the first section attempts to present a comprehensive overview of the food loss of perishable fruits and vegetables in Bangladesh. The second section then discusses a supply chain analysis of post-harvest losses for tomatoes and potatoes. 2.4.1 Food loss in Bangladesh: the status quo Perishable and semi-perishable agricultural produce largely denotes fruits and vegetables. As such, post-harvest losses of fruits and vegetables are a key focus of this literature review and study. As excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, the loss of fruits and vegetables is a social health issue (Baqui, 2005; Hassan et al. 2010). Their unavailability contributes to an inadequate and imbalanced dietary intake and creates a fragile nutritional situation in Bangladesh (Baqui, 2005: Hassan et al., 2010; Hossain et al., 2005). Estimated requirements for fruits and vegetables have been put at 8.32 million tons of produce while just over half this figure is available for consumption within the local market (Baqui, 2005).
The situation could be improved by increasing the consumption of nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables. It is therefore of significant importance to provide food security through the reduction of losses of fruits and vegetables in order to increase dietary quality in Bangladesh. However, as a result of post-harvest losses a considerable amount of fruits and vegetables never reach consumers (Baqui, 2005; Hassan et al., 2010; Khan, 2012).
Most harvested fruits and vegetables in Bangladesh can be categorized as being highly perishable, which entails a storage life of a maximum of 2-4 weeks (Kitinoja & Kader, 2003). 2
Bhuiyan (Md), N.K. (BRAC AFSP, 2012). Value Chain Scoping Study of Potato, Sweetpotato, Pumpkin and Tomato
The percentage of post-harvest losses is considerably higher when proper storage and cooling facilities are not present. Therefore an urgent need exists to extend the period of availability. Although no current and actual reliable data are available to indicate the magnitude of postharvest losses of fruits and vegetables in Bangladesh, evidence and reports from the past 20 years have been published mentioning percentages of 15-50% of fruits and vegetables being lost postharvest (Amiruzzaman, 1990; Baqui, 2005; Islam, 2009; Miaruddin & Shahjahan, 2008; Singh & Chadha, 1990).
Hassan et al. (2010) argue that there is a need for systematic research to correctly estimate the levels of post-harvest losses of the fruits and vegetables in Bangladesh. Through correctly estimating the post-harvest losses and developing appropriate post-harvest technology, retention of physical and nutritional qualities of the produce can be ensured (Baqui, 2005). Hassan et al. (2010) calculated post-harvest losses of fruits and vegetables in the supply chain. Their study aimed at estimating the losses of fruits and vegetables at different levels of the supply chain, from the growers to the retailers. Post-harvest quantitative losses were calculated by averaging the losses observed at the different levels of the supply chain. The most striking finding is that the post-harvest loss of fruits and vegetables in Bangladesh range from 23.6% to 43.5% (see figure 4) with a monetary value of 3442 crore taka or an estimated 334,758,249 euro (Hassan et al., 2010). Jackfruit, pineapple, papaya and cauliflower have seen the highest rate of loss, with 43%, 39.9% and 27.1% of losses respectively (Hassan et al., 2010).These percentages are almost unaltered compared to the earlier mentioned percentages regarding the last 20 years of postharvest losses (see figure 4). Post-harvest losses in food grains in Bangladesh are reported to be an estimated 15%, while in fruits and vegetables they are estimated at 20â€“25%. For highly perishable fruits and vegetables, these losses may go as high as 40% (Badrud-doza & Rolle, 2006).
Bhuiyan et al (2012) argue that the amount of food loss regarding tomatoes and potatoes is estimated to be 35-38% and 20-26% respectively. These percentages, however, only apply to the Jessore, Barisal, Faridpur, and Chittagong areas, and are not representative for Bangladesh as a whole.
Figure 4: Loss of fruits and vegetables
Source: Hassan et al., 2010
Losses of perishable fruits and vegetables can be induced by different factors throughout the entire supply chain of perishable fruits. For instance, the reason for the loss of jackfruit and other fruits has largely been placed down to bruising, water loss and compositional changes (Hassan et al., 2010; Quddus & Mia, 2010) while the use of chemicals to ripen fruit has been connected with the high rates of pineapple loss (Hassan et al., 2010). An overview of the reasons for loss based on Quddus and Miaâ€™ observations is illustrated in table 2. A lack of appropriate storage facilities is seen as a particular factor inducing loss of both fruits and vegetables (Hassan et al., 2010: Quddus & Mia, 2010).
Table 2 : Causes of post-harvest losses of vegetables and fruits
Source: Adapted from Quddus & Mia, 2010
Other identified reasons for food loss are poor pre-packaging, handling methods, technologies, and inefficient marketing systems which cause high post-harvest losses of the commodity which might vary greatly depending on commodity types (The Daily Star 2013). Das and Hanaoka (2009) have identified that the absence of a well-developed marketing and transportation network contributes significantly to high post-harvest losses in fruits and vegetables. For vegetables, it is estimated that the loss of nearly 25-40% as a result of rough pre-packaging and improper post-harvest handling, transportation, and storage practices (Singh & Chadha, 1990).
2.4.2 Supply chain analysis of food loss Md. Nurul Karim Bhuiyan from BRAC-AFSP has identified percentages of post-harvest loss at different actors of the supply chain. Figure 5 and figure 6 shows a breakdown of these findings for tomato and potato revealing that for tomato post-harvest loss was about 35-38% in the studied area and 20-26% for potato. The higher post-harvest losses for tomato were due to improper handling, packaging, low-level technology, and lack of cold storage. These postharvest losses indicate great potential for increasing farmers' incomes and improving the rural economy, as well as significant potential for import substitution of vegetables. Figure 5: supply chain post-harvest loss for tomato
Source: Bhuiyan, 2012
Figure 6: supply chain post-harvest loss for potato
Source: Bhuiyan, 2012
Similar to the research conducted by Md. Nurul Karim Bhuiyan from BRAC-AFSP, the FAO has calculated the post-harvest losses of individual fruits and vegetables at different levels of the supply chain (see table 3). As can be seen in table 3, the biggest percentage of losses occurred at the Bepari and wholesaler level. According to Hassan (2010) this might be due to the absence of proper storage facilities and transport. In case of jackfruit and litchi, the biggest percentage of losses occurred at growersâ€™ level, which could be attributed to the fact that these fruits are seriously damaged by fruit borer (jackfruit), and fruit cracking and pericarp browning (litchi) (Hassan, 2010: p. 18).
Table 3: Post-harvest losses at different levels of the supply chain
Source: Hassan, 2010
2.5 Methods identified to address food loss As can be concluded from the previous chapter, lowering food loss has the potential to increase consumer purchasing power and is therefore a very promising research area. Unfortunately, â€˜Modern storage of fruits and vegetables is virtually absent in Bangladesh...very few growers and intermediaries adopt any technologies to prolong [the] shelf life of fruits and vegetablesâ€™ (Hassan, 2010). As we will discuss, storage facilities are only available for potatoes at the moment.
In this chapter we will investigate potential and existing solutions to address the food loss issue. We will start by discussing potential methods as identified in the literature. Next, we will describe two existing practical storage solutions in Bangladesh. Finally we will discuss the issues that need special attention during the stage of implementation.
2.5.1 Solutions identified in literature The literature (Hossain & Miah, 2009; Khan, 2012; Quddus & Mia 2010; Rahemi, 2006) addresses a number of potential methods for tackling food loss in Bangladesh, varying from systematic changes to specific methods. Many authors (Khan, 2012; Quddus & Mia, 2010) emphasize the importance of storage facilities as a key potential solution to food loss in the country. Khan (2012) highlights how storage facilities could help in better supply chain management and allow farmers greater security, aiding farmers to move out of the poverty trap. A number of other potential avenues for reducing loss are given in Quddus and Miaâ€™ report which include the proper selection of crops, changing harvesting techniques, treatment, waxes and emulsions, irradiation, drying before storage as well as the use of storage facilities (Quddus & Mia, 2010). The following section will overview the mentioned post-harvest handling methods.
18.104.22.168 Drying before storage Drying before storage is an important post handling process of crops, since it is one of the most cost-effective techniques. Drying before storage can be broadly distinguished into three categories. The simplest technique used frequently in many rural areas of developing countries,
is open sun drying. Although this traditional technique is costless, it leads to high post-harvest food losses, â€˜due to inadequate drying, fungal growth, encroachment of insects, birds and rodents, etc.â€™ (Bal et al., 2010). As a second option, an industrial drying technique can be used. This technique controls for environmental conditions and therefore quality can be guaranteed. However, as large quantities of fossil fuels are required for this technique, it is both costly and damaging to the environment. Furthermore, the rising costs of fossil fuel are often not affordable for smallholder farmers in rural areas. The most promising solution therefore seems to be the solar assisted drying system (Ibid). Section 5 of the literature review will elaborate on this technique.
22.214.171.124 Waxes and emulsions Waxes and emulsions both relate to the biological control of post-harvest diseases. Waxes refer to a process in which fruits or vegetables are covered with artificial coatings. Emulsion is a mixture of two liquids that are unblendable. The main aim of this biological control method is to prevent fruit and vegetables from getting infected (Eckert & Ogawa, 1988). As the use of fungicides and pesticides (chemical treatment) have received a lot of attention regarding health issues, biological control has emerged as an effective substitute strategy to decrease post-harvest food losses. Unfortunately, biological control is not very cost effective for field production yet and therefore implementation in Bangladesh is not economically feasible (Janisiewicz & Korsten, 2002).
126.96.36.199 Irradiation The irradiation method is another way to tackle pathogens of fruits and vegetables by penetrating them with gamma radiation. Irradiation is not a truly viable solution for smallholder food loss in Bangladesh. It is very cost-intensive, requiring heavy capital investment, and more suited to large agricultural firms. The amount of gamma radiation required for disease prevention is stated to be close to the amount required to damage the fruit itself. Although the risk of such damage is lower in mature ripe fruits and vegetables as cell division is less significant (Eckert & Ogawa, 1988).
188.8.131.52 Chemical treatment Treatment of fruits and vegetables can take the form of chemical treatment. Chemical treatment is the process often used to treat against fungal and bacterial infections (Eckert & Ogawa, 1988) of largely pome fruits (i.e. fruits like apples and pears). Being concerned with protecting fruit from foreign pathogens, the method does not have much effect on reducing the rate of physiological deterioration (Ibid). Treatment should not be seen as a substitute for proper storing methods but can be used to complement it. For instance, in the case of pome fruits stored in cold storage facilities, decay of fruits tends to increase as the fruit ripens. To help prevent this accelerated decay pome fruit could be treated with fungicide treatment before storage (Ibid). A significant concern with the use of chemical treatments is the potential resulting health issues at the consumer level 184.108.40.206 Cooling storage facilities A low temperature is the ideal storage temperature for fresh fruits and vegetables because injuries or development of microorganisms can be suppressed by low temperature storage and it increases the duration of their marketability (Eckert & Okawa, 1988; Ho, 2006). Table 4 shows the ideal temperature and relative humidity to maximize the post-harvest life of individual fruits and vegetables.
Table 4: Temperature, relative humidity and approximate storage life of fruits and vegetables
Source: Hassan, 2010
Usually, if applied, mechanical refrigeration is used for the storage of fruits and vegetables. However, in developing countries like Bangladesh, these mechanical refrigerators for the most part are missing (Hassan, 2010). Moreover, this method is energy intensive and expensive, involves considerable initial capital investment, and requires uninterrupted supplies of electricity, which arenâ€™t always readily available and cannot be quickly and easily installed (Choudhury, 2006). Nonetheless, this technique is most effective for crops like apples, grapes, and carrots e.g. perishable fruits, which will tolerate near-freezing temperatures that virtually halt the development of bacteria (Eckert & Okawa, 1988).
It is important to maintain the freshness and increase the durability of the fruits and vegetables, because the short and long-term storage of perishables is the most important post-harvest operation of fruits and vegetables in the supply chain (Hassan et al., 2010). Cold chain systems and infrastructures, in which fruits and vegetables in each part of the supply chain are being held, handled, stored or transported in chilled conditions, prolong the freshness of agricultural produce and increase the duration of their marketability (Ho, 2006). Improved freshness will increase
consumer satisfaction, will induce price stabilization and continuity of supply, reduce marketing expenses due to reduced losses and will above all increase the quantities of fresh marketable produce so that increased food security can be achieved (Ho, 2006).
Post-harvest cooling and low temperature storage facilities play a significant part in the refrigerated infrastructure and the supply chain of fruits and vegetables. However, the benefits of the low temperature storage facilities must outweigh the cost, which is difficult to achieve in Bangladesh as the fruit industry is not well developed, seemingly due to a lack of interest and support from the government (Badrud-doza & Rolle, 2006).
To store perishables for the rural areas where refrigerated storage facilities are lacking, low cost cooling technologies can provide a possible solution. Mechanical refrigeration, on the other hand, does not fit this description as it is perceived to be both energy intensive and expensive (Badrud-doza & Rolle, 2006). A more detailed report about this matter will be given in the next section of the literature review and in chapter 6 of this report.
There are alternatives to energy intensive cold storage systems. An earthen chilling pot, which is based on evaporative cooling, was found exceptionally suitable for low-cost and small-scale storage of fruits and vegetables, especially for those areas where electricity and refrigeration facilities are lacking (Hassan et al. 2010). Evaporative cooling doesnâ€™t require any external power supply and therefore is one of the most simple and low-cost alternatives to preserve fruits and vegetables. Evaporative cooling refers to a process in which air, that is not too humid, passes over water. Subsequently, as the water evaporates it will draw energy from its surroundings, resulting in a cooling effect. This method is most effective in dryer conditions.
Figure 7 shows a very simple design of such a cooling system. Although this cooling technology doesnâ€™t require a lot of investment, the earthen cooling pot would still be impractical for farmers with high amounts of crop yields. Furthermore, the cooling pots will be more suitable for shortterm storage of vegetables (Hassan et al., 2010).
Figure 7: Earthen cooling pot system
Source: Khalifa, 2008
2.5.2 Existing practical storage solutions in Bangladesh The literature study indicates that some innovative and smart storage solutions are already being implemented in Bangladesh. For instance, scientists from the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) have developed two types of storage facilities: storage of potatoes under ambient conditions and an improved ambient storage system to serve a group of households forming a community.
The first type, storage of potatoes under ambient conditions (see figure 8), allows farmers to store potatoes for three to five months naturally. However, in order to get that result certain conditions have to be met. For one, there should be continuous ventilation throughout the storage facility, meaning that there should be windows at all sides of the facility. Furthermore, it is important to pick a location that is not too exposed to the sun. Finally, with regard to the materials that should be used to build the facility, it is recommended to use straw to build the roof, and bamboo for the shelves.
The second type, the improved ambient storage facility (see figure 9), is actually an evaporative storage facility, where potatoes can be stored in burlap bags on bamboo floors above a pool of water. The advantages of these storage facilities are the relatively low costs to build the facility,
and the satisfactory results gained from using these facilities. While these methods are moderately effective for semi-perishable vegetables, they are largely ineffective and unused for the storage of perishable vegetables. Figure 8: Ambient potato storage
Source: Md Tanvir Ahmed, AFSP, BRAC, 2013
Figure 9: Improved- ambient potato storage
Source: Md Tanvir Ahmed, AFSP, BRAC, 2013
2.5.3 Problems with initiating methods 220.127.116.11 Infrastructural setbacks As we can see from the literature, cold-storage facilities are a key method identified to tackle food loss. The literature assessed in turn identifies a number of areas that are important to consider with regards to the implementation of facilities of this sort. 18.104.22.168 Load-shedding A key issue is load-shedding. Without a continuous stream of electricity, storing produce in facilities could be futile. Hossain and Miah (2009) argue that inconsistent electricity supply in Bangladesh is a key hindrance to potential storage solutions. Load-shedding is a common feature in the electricity grid of Bangladesh and therefore any implemented solution needs to take this contextual reality into account. In addition, the level of training of farmers and other actors that utilize such facilities also needs to be taken into account (Hossain & Miah, 2009).
22.214.171.124 Social implementation It is also important to consider how any such facilities affect the role and bargaining power of local stakeholders. Khan (2012) in particular suggests that the social value and bargaining power of farmers should be the primary objective. In this way a more public - as opposed to private -
approach is suggested to be the best way to install such facilities. They emphasize the difference in approach between private - efficiency and value maximization focus- and a more public approach. Social value, they argue, needs to be the primary objective of the implementation of storage facilities. In particular, the relationship in bargaining power between traders and farmers should take strong consideration (Khan, 2012).
Different potential solutions have been mentioned to address the post-harvest losses of fruits and vegetables in Bangladesh. As mentioned earlier, the area of regular cold-storage facilities are identified as being one of the most suitable in reducing post-harvest losses. However due to difficulties in installing such methods, this area requires further investment. Therefore the present study will focus on solar power generated cold storage facilities, because storage facilities with solar panels yield relative sustainability, cost and reliability advantages, which should not be overlooked. In the next section the potential integration of solar panels into a storage solution will be addressed further.
2.6 The solar panel solution Some possible solutions to diminish the post-harvest food losses have been mentioned and explained in the previous chapter. This chapter will build specifically on the necessity to dry or cool fruit and vegetables and, more importantly, how this can be done both cheaply and efficiently by utilizing power from the sun. Furthermore, two case studies are presented as examples of how solar panels can serve as an alternative source of energy for powering cooling systems.
2.6.1 The potential of solar energy in Bangladesh Most of the generated power in Bangladesh comes from coal, diesel and gas driven power stations. However, these sources are finite, costly and, moreover, damaging to the environment. Furthermore, as it turns out, over 70% of Bangladesh is not connected to this â€˜national gridâ€™. Moreover, the problem of black-outs -or load shedding- occurs frequently even within the grid due to scarcity of electricity. The power stations are not producing the amount of energy they are
supposed to produce, the main reason for this is out-dated equipment, which ultimately results in load-shedding. (Khan, Rahman & Hossain, 2012). This means that a large part of the rural area will have to rely on different sources of energy, which has obvious consequences for the activities that take place there, for instance the drying and storage of crops.
In order to diminish food loss in remote locations as a result of inadequate storage facilities, it is important to have an open stance towards change and to grasp new opportunities to improve these activities. Ideally, the rural area should be able to be self-sufficient through the use of cheap and reliable sources of energy. Fortunately, the abundant amount of sunshine in Bangladesh creates opportunities to alleviate the problem of food loss (Khan et al., 2012). It might even lead to a win-win situation, as solar power reduces the need to be connected to a national power grid. Moreover, it may lead to a better quality product overall (Khan et al., 2012).
2.6.2 Drying Solar energy can be used to dry food products in order to avoid the crops from withering before consumption; fruits and vegetables are especially susceptible to such processes and perish rather quickly. Fortunately, there are some major advantages of solar-drying technology compared to the more conventional open-air sun system (Sharma, et al., 2009). To be clear, the solar-drying technology differentiates itself from the latter mechanism through the use of tools to collect the sun’s radiation, instead of depending solely on the sun’s energy out in the open. While the traditional open-air sun system may be inexpensive, it does come at the cost of spoilt products due to rain, wind, moisture, birds and other animals. Moreover, it is a very time consuming exercise and requires a lot of space to lay the crops to dry (Ibid). As opposed to these pitfalls, the solar-drying technology solution offers the following advantages: ●
It is faster, as crops can be dried within a shorter period of time; enlargement of the area
of solar collection will lead to a greater collection of the sun’s energy. ●
It is more efficient, as less food will be lost to spoilage after harvest, thereby increasing
the amount that can be used for consumption. This applies foremost for products that need to be dried as quickly as possible.
It is hygienic, as the crops are handled in a controlled environment as opposed to plain
open air, and at the same time decreasing the chance of crops getting contaminated by pests or fungi. â—?
It is argued to be healthier, because the fast drying of crops reduces the loss of nutritional
value. Further it has been argued to result in food that tastes and looks more appealing. In sum, the result is a more marketable and profitable product.(Ibid).
The drying mechanism is described as drying under controlled conditions of temperature and humidity that helps the agricultural product to dry rapidly to save the moisture content, resulting in a good quality product (Bal et al., 2010).
2.6.3 Cooling Not all crops benefit from heating processes. In some cases high temperatures restrict or even prevent the cultivation of many crops. It is therefore important to consider how to create cool environments for cultivation in hot climates (Davies, 2005). Conventional refrigeration is generally too expensive to install and run in greenhouses, compared to the cost of importing the food produce from cooler regions. Any greenhouse refrigeration system must have a modest consumption of electricity or other fuel such as oil or gas. Some form of solar-powered refrigeration may be the only way to achieve this goal. Fortunately, solar energy can be used to tackle this issue in the form of solar-powered cooling systems (Desideri et al., 2009).
Moreover, the use of solar-energy in this regard will lead to significant benefits compared to traditional air-conditioned plants. As it entails a solar thermal technology that produces cold by exploiting solar energy, significant savings compared with traditional air-conditioned plants can be achieved. In general, the solar-powered cooling systems are designed to be applied for (industrial) refrigeration or air conditioning purposes (Desideri et al., 2009).
According to Davies (2005), a solar cooling system could lower the maximum summer temperature by 15 degrees Celsius. This is five degrees Celsius lower than can be achieved with a conventional evaporative cooling system as is commonly used in greenhouses today.
Compared to the conventional system, the proposed system could extend the growing season for a crop such as lettuce from three to six months. Similarly, for tropical crops such as tomato and cucumber, the optimum season would be extended from seven to twelve months. However, these conclusions are based on the current climate, thus, in future decades, predicted global warming would be likely to make solar-cooled greenhouses even more relevant. 2.6.4 Case studies Cooling storage facilities have been attempted before with success in India and Malaysia (Eltawil & Samuel, 2007; Sobamowo, 2012). This section will delve deeper into these two cases. 126.96.36.199 India In India solar panels were successfully demonstrated to be a viable solution for rural cooling storage facilities. Integrated into cooling facilities for rural farmers, the project demonstrated its potential with regards to potato crops. Eltawil and Samuel (2007) investigated the possibility of a solar PV powered vapour compression refrigeration system to attain favourable conditions for potato storage, and to subsequently evaluate its shelf life under different operating conditions.
To elaborate, PV systems are Photovoltaic systems that use sunlight to convert solar energy into electricity. The generated electricity can either be used directly or stored for later use. A PV system is very simple, compact and requires only a modest amount of skilled labour to install and maintain, making them well suited to village power systems (Eltawil & Samuel, 2007). A typical PV system would consist out of a solar panel, charge-controller, lead-acid battery, inverter and service panel, electric meter and utility grid. Eltawil and Samuelâ€™s (2007) study used a solar panel of 490W with a charged battery for overnight operation. Also, different parameters and several cases were used to measure and evaluate the systemâ€™s output and performance. As the storage temperature and the humidity of the atmosphere are significant elements in keeping the losses low and maintaining the quality, parameters like energy consumption, air humidity and temperature inside cold storage were used to evaluate performance.
As evidenced by the study, these solar powered cooling systems are a significant contribution in the reduction of post-harvest losses. The almost constant chilled conditions ensured vegetables (e.g. potatoes) were held in their marketable conditions such that acceptable levels of dry matter and reducing sugar were realized. As Eltawil and Samuel (2007) point out, solar panels can serve as an alternative source of energy for powering cooling systems.
188.8.131.52 Malaysia Similarly, Khatib et al. (2011) confirmed the effective application of the use of solar panels in the use of cooling greenhouse applications in a tropical environment. Conducted in Selangor, Malaysia, the objective of the study was to demonstrate the applicability of a photovoltaic electricity system in cooling a greenhouse. While the methods of cooling the greenhouse are likely different to any application of a storage facility there are nonetheless some valuable lessons that can be drawn from the study.
The greenhouse used two misting fans at 200W each, with a daily load of 2000 kWh/day to prevent the temperature within the greenhouse from exceeding 30 degrees Celsius. Other materials included one inverter and one battery bank with 12 batteries and 48 solar modules/panels for the generation 273.6 Amps of energy. Climatic conditions within Malaysia have similar temperatures and humidity levels as Bangladesh. So at similar climatic conditions with five hours of sunshine a day the 48 solar panels generated 273.6 Amps of energy. Furthermore, a trigger switch system was used to maintain the temperature rate, and the panels were found to be sufficiently self-reliant as the greenhouses did not at any point of the study, require energy from the grid (Mohammed et al, 2007).
Mekhilef et al. (2012) support the use of the above-mentioned system, and solar power systems in general, as they believe that areas with a high amount of solar radiation (e.g. 400-600 MJ/m2) will reap the benefits this technology has to offer. Moreover, the conversion of solar radiation to electricity by PV cells has a number of important advantages as an electricity generator. Elhassan et al. (2011) argue in their study on the use of PV systems in Malaysia that the PV system can be used for residential purposes, and because each PV system is connected to the utility grid, excess
power produced by PV systems can be sold to the grid. And vice versa, the grid will function as a back-up when the PV systemsâ€™ output is not sufficient. 2.6.5 Current use of solar energy in Bangladesh To conclude, the government already supports the dispersion of solar home systems as a means for rural populations to enjoy off-grid electrification. These systems have experienced considerable growth in Bangladesh since the start of the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development Project in 2003; the initial target of 50,000 SHS installations in off-grid areas was achieved within two and a half years, three years ahead of schedule (Chowdhury et al., 2011). It can thus be argued that there is support for fresh, new and alternative sources of energy, and as solar energy storage systems are in line with these developments, it might be possible that these agricultural applications will receive the same amount of support.
Chapter 3 â€“ Methodology 3.1 Study field Figure 10: Map of Bangladesh
Source: adapted from www.mapsofworld.com, 2013
The study was conducted in a qualitative manner from June 2013 â€“ August 2013. The field area is categorized in three different economic strata that included urban Dhaka (Kawranbazar) city, semi-urban villages (Bangala and Railla) in Manikganj district and rural villages (Panichara & Fottepur) in Jessore district. These areas are chosen purposively to understand the different contexts of three different (geographical and socio-economical) areas. These also helped to understand the supply chain process under different backgrounds.
Within the urban strata, Kawranbazar was chosen because it is one of the largest wholesale markets situated in Dhaka City Corporation. It is a spatially concentrated where daily product sales and clearing take place that also highlights the role of spatial proximity and regional synergies of the country. It is a hectic and busy atmosphere as in some cases international transactions take place. Almost all types of vegetables and fruits frequently come to this wholesale market from most of the districts of Bangladesh. The Manikganj district is considered as a semi-urban area of Bangladesh. It is about 80 km away from Dhaka city. Because of the short distance, some stakeholders of the supply chain often come directly to Dhaka to sell their products. In terms of rural areas of Bangladesh, Jessore was chosen because it is around 220 km away from Dhaka and usually people do not come to Dhaka to sell their perishable foods.
This study is designed to capture all the stakeholders of supply chain within different geographical and economic strata. Therefore, permanent resident farmers, Bepari and Arathdars, were included and interviewed. Participants were selected randomly for interviews according to their available time.
3.2 Data collection methods 3.2.1 Focus group discussions (FGDs) A total of four FGDs of farmers were conducted in semi-urban and village areas i.e two FGDs in Manikganj and two FGDs in Jessore. FGDs are undertaken separately between small and big holder farmers. The reason behind selecting them separately was to get different insights from different socio-economical contexts. Other stakeholders such as Bepari and Arathdars were not available for FGDs in groups as different stakeholders work in different areas thus very difficult to gather them one place together at the same time.
3.2.2 In-depth interviews (IDIs) As many as possible IDIs have been conducted until data saturation occurred. Considering saturation, a total of 14 IDIs were conducted among Farmers, Arathdar, and Bepari in urban, semi-urban, and rural Bangladesh. Within the urban area, three Bepari and in the semi-urban area three farmers and three Bepari were included. In the rural areas, three farmers and two Bepari
were included. Topics covered in the IDIs included the current extent of perishable food loss, storage facilities, and potential of utilizing solar panel induced cold storage facilities. This study additionally focused on identifying current cooling storage facilities available and future possibilities of introducing solar panel storage facilities.
3.2.3 Key informant interviews (KIIs) KII were conducted both in Bangladesh and in the Netherlands in order to capture the expert opinion from different players working at different points in the supply chain. Therefore, a total of 11 KIIs were conducted in both countries. Out of these, a total of nine KIIs were undertaken among different stakeholder in Bangladesh such as FAO, Parasol, BRAC Cold Storage, BRAC Solar, Dutch Embassy of Bangladesh, BRAC Agriculture, Solidaridad, Bengal Solar, and The International Potato Center. And a total of two KIIs was conducted with Duijvestijn Tomaten (Nursery that grows Tomatoes) and Cofely institute (provides technical services and solutions in the areas of energy efficiency) in the Netherlands.
3.3 Sampling For the FGDs purposive sampling was applied; participants -particularly men- were selected according to predetermined criteria over 25 years. The sample included male resident farmers in order to get a comprehensive and insightful perspective of the current extent of perishable food loss, storage facilities, and the potential of utilizing solar panels. Using the network of BRAC local field staff ensured a representative range of local persons. They included the participants using â€˜snowball sampling techniqueâ€™ i.e. a suitable farmer will help to get another suitable farmer.
For the IDIs, FGD participants were identified and interviewed. In terms of the KIIs, the institutional head, program coordinator and project managers were interviewed.
3.4 Data collection Two teams, each of which included two researchers from BRAC and two researchers from Sefa from The University of Amsterdam, did data collection. Each team worked parallel to collect data. FGDs, KIIs and IDIs were conducted at different sites lasting about 60-90 minutes. Representativeness of FGDs and IDIs was ensured through careful selection of farmers from a typical areas and village. Then, suitable farmers from different socio-economic strata were selected in approximate proportion to the percentage of each stratum in the general population.
The researchers from BRAC and The University of Amsterdam worked together in conducting the FGDs and IDIs. Taking rigorous notes during the interviews as well as recording it through digital tape recorders after receiving the consent of the participants obtained the data from the interviews.
At the end of each working day, both teams came together and briefly skimmed over the information collected throughout the day and prepared summary notes based on that. Once the interviews were conducted, the teams returned back to Dhaka and the researchers transcribed the recordings. All transcriptions were triangulated, i.e. multiple notes were used along with the audio recordings.
3.5 Data analysis The data analysis was conducted by taking the following steps; data familiarization, data reduction and data display.
3.5.1 Data familiarization All the researchers contributed to the process of transcription, which leads to a certain degree of familiarization with the factors considered. Transcripts were made using recorded sound files and notes taken during fieldwork. Other researchers checked the transcripts to increase the validity and further familiarization of the data. Translated transcripts were compiled, read and discussed.
3.5.2 Data reduction Priori codes, inductive codes and sub-codes were generated, identified, and defined in a broader group. The definition includes code abbreviations, colour coding, full descriptions, when to use, when not to use, and examples from transcripts. The current research used the sub-code for existing storage facilities and future potential of introducing solar panel storage facilities. The researchers compared the coding strategies to check the inter-reliability.
3.5.3 Data display Sample checklists were created for methods such as FGDs, IDIs and KIIs to facilitate the further data analysis. Triangulation of IDIs and FGDs along with KII findings was conducted to identify recurrent themes and crosschecking.
3.6 Ethical considerations Questionnaires were read and comprehensively explained in front of the potential participants, since they voluntarily accepted to participate in the study, they were then asked to sign or put a thumbprint on the written consent paper. Participants were assured about the confidential handling of their provided information. Participants were also assured that their name or any identifier will not be used in performing data analysis and in sharing the results of the study. The study was approved by the BRAC research and evaluation division as per existing rules.
Chapter 4 - Findings Objective 1 Objective 1: To explore perishable food loss at the farmer, Bepari and Arathdar level in Bangladesh
4.1 Introduction As identified in the literature review, we know that most goods and services are produced by a complex and sequenced set of activities and perishable vegetables are one of these. The activities involved in this process are split across a number of economic agents (people, enterprises, cooperatives, etc.).
The literature review has provided an overview of existing studies and has moreover expressed the lack of in depth studies on the smallholder supply chain in Bangladesh. The first objective intends to add to the existing literature to further explore the issue of food loss in the country.
To explore this theme, we have focused on the activities of the stakeholders involved in the supply chain and have meticulously inspected how this is related to the loss of produce in diversified geographic locations classified as rural (Jessore), semi-urban (Manikganj) and urban (Dhaka). Qualitative discussions with stakeholders have attempted to find out, where and how food loss occurs along this supply chain, the following chapter will begin by providing a brief description of the various stakeholder roles according to our research, which is followed by our findings related to food loss beginning with the rural and semi-urban contexts and then the urban context. Within each regional context findings related to the Farmer, Bepari and Arathdar will be provided.
4.2 General overview of stakeholder relationships 4.2.1 Farmer Farmers, residing at the beginning of supply chain, are the primary producers. Farmers invest the most physical labour, capital and time in the supply chain but the profits they take home are considerably smaller than other stakeholders. The value of the product increases substantially through the transactions between the stakeholders that follow this initial point of the supply chain. The further farmers reside from major markets, the smaller their added value in monetary terms. For instance it was observed that in Jessore, Pointed Gourd would fetch some 3Tk/kg whereas in Dhaka the cost is 10 times higher at 30Tk/kg.
4.2.2 Arathdar The Arathdar perform an important market function as market facilitators by providing the location at which Farmers, wholesalers and Bepari exchange goods and money. The Arathdar gets a 5% commission for undertaking this role â€“ the amount of commission is a minimum that is protected by government legislation. All stakeholders generally recognize that it would be extremely difficult for farmers to sell their product without the existence of the Araths and the stakeholder. Arathdars bring both connections with other stakeholders and the visibility required in the local market for farmers to sell their product. However, their function is not always limited to market facilitators, in some areas they provide credit to farmers (more on this in chapter 5). Furthermore they have an ability to influence the market depending on the scarcity of their services â€“ as discussed below. While the Arathdarâ€™s commission is fixed, they generally gain a large portion of the profits due to the volume traded through Araths and due to relatively low labour costs.
On a practical level the Arathdar bears little risk of damaged product or waste, as the effect of waste is limited to its impact on their 5% commission earnings, while this loss is not negligible, there is little to no recognition by the Arathdar of the effect that losses may be having on their earnings. It is in other words regarded as an inevitable part of the trade.
4.2.3 Bepari The Bepari are important in transporting crops from the farmers to the Arathdar and in selling the product at major Araths as wholesalers. The Bepari are in most cases the direct purchasers of the product from the farmers with the Arathdar facilitating the transaction. As such they bear some of the risk for product being damaged as it directly affects their earnings in turn. Nonetheless the losses incurred are not perceived by Bepari to be significant enough to warrant action. Moreover, certain types of losses are perceived to make economic sense for the Bepari, examples include overloading of trucks or rough handling to speed up the buying/selling process (the use of hooks to ease carrying of bags).
4.3 Rural 4.3.1 Arathdar 184.108.40.206 Market excess supply On the level of the Arathdar the perishable products (pointed gourd/eggplant) assessed in stakeholder interviews needs to be sold rapidly. If the produce is not sold within a day then an estimated 1.5-2 kg of produce is wasted per maund (40kg). This produce can be traded up to seven days from harvesting after which it is spoiled. If the farmer provides crops under late harvest conditions (14-15 days of the last harvest) the product is more vulnerable to rot, thus reducing the tradable time to 4-5 days. Late harvest was identified by the Arathdar to occur as a result of the reluctance of farmers to supply the market when prices are low- a consequence of excess supply. To an anecdotal extent it was also stated to occur as a result of illegal imports from India flooding the market. The cost of the losses incurred from late harvested crops is borne by the Arathdar. A storage facility was identified in interviews with Arathdars to be a useful method of reducing the supply of late-harvested vegetables.
220.127.116.11 Improper handling Current handling methods in the assessed Arath involved the use of jute sacks- which carry 4045kg of pointed gourd/eggplant- for the easy movement and handling of the produce. Quick movement of the produce onto trucks is handled by hooks, which damage the goods in the process leading to loss. While the current method of handling leads to substantial loss it is
recognized by the workers and Arathdar within the Arath to be the most efficient method of handling and the losses are considered negligible. Other potential methods of utilizing cartons or plastic containers are considered too expensive.
4.3.2 Farmers in rural setting 18.104.22.168 Loss of products and reason During periods of excess supply farmers in Jessore are reluctant to sell and so refrain from supplying the market. During such periods, which occur during later stages of the crop market cycle, crops are more prone to ripen and perish quickly. This is exacerbated by the heat of the summer, which was stated to be a major cause of loss of perishable crops. In addition, static crops are also vulnerable to insect infestation and sudden changes in the climate, both of which also lead to large losses in perishable vegetables. Hartals are another major reason that farmers may be forced to refrain from supplying the market which can lead to similar outcomes.
4.4 Semi-urban 4.4.1 Activities of Medium Holder Farmers Manikganj is particularly well known for producing corn and cauliflower and they remain the traditional crops grown when other crops are off-season. Other prominent crops include Cabbages, Green beans, Lady finger, Brinjal, Pumpkin, Snake gourd, Bitter gourd, String beans, and Green chili. Between 70-80 maund (2800-3200 kg) of Cauliflower is produced per season.
22.214.171.124 Loss of products and reason Medium holder farmers emphasised the losses that incur from transportation and packaging. Transportation, which is undertaken by the farmers or by Bepari leads to damage and bruising due to the current methods used. Bamboo baskets are currently used for packaging and loading onto transportation.
Other post-harvest losses were said to vary according to the type of vegetables, but largely confirm the statements from rural smallholder farmers during FGDs. Once again, hartals (strikes)
were identified to be responsible for crops having to remain at the farms or to transportation being unable to reach its destination. Stagnant crops are prone to the climatic issues already mentioned and it was noted that brinjal is particularly vulnerable to heat, which accelerates its decay.
4.4.2 Activities of smallholder farmers Smallholder farmers expressed frustration at frequent market price fluctuations. Farmers want to sell when prices are high, but since their crops are highly perishable, the majority of the tenant farmers depend fully on market prices at the point of harvesting. They are constantly looking for high market demand to get a fair price for their crops however seasonal excess supply makes this impossible.
126.96.36.199 Loss of product and reason Smallholder farmers are concerned with the effects of climate change and insect infestation. Rainfall greatly affects the income of farmers. Excessive and unpredictable rain and drought are main reasons for loss in the pre-harvest and post-harvest stages subsequently negatively effecting income. FGDs revealed that last year (i.e. in 2012), the price of green chilli was 200-300Tk (approximately €2-3) /kg whereas in the current year this is about 100-200Tk (approximately €12) /kg due to less rainfall.
The farmers were also worried about not being able to sell off their harvest in time. When this occurs, large amounts of their harvest is wasted due once again, to climatic conditions. For example, one farmer mentioned that, leafy vegetables locally called ‘shaks’ are often sourced locally and there is huge loss due to its perishability if it remains unsold.
4.4.3 Activities of Arathdars Arathdars in the semi-urban context of Manikganj vouch for the efficiency of their market operations as within four to five hours the Arath is cleared. When asked about market losses they could not provide approximate figures but they believed that current losses were minimal. Current packaging practices are deemed sufficient, efficient and effective. Under this current perception they expressed no desire or intention to change current practices or methods.
4.5 Urban 4.5.1 Arathdar Through IDIs it was estimated that 5500 to 6000 Arathdars operate in Dhakaâ€™s Arath conducting various business transactions. The study identified several causes of perishable food loss in the Arath which are listed below:
188.8.131.52 Packaging Unlike their rural and semi-urban counterparts, poor handling and packaging was recognized as a key cause of loss by the Arathdar operating in Dhaka and improving these practices was suggested by the respondents as a potential solution to reducing current losses.
184.108.40.206Transportation Dhakaâ€™s Arath is a main market location that sells fresh produce from all over the country that has often travelled overnight to reach this location. The respondents stated that each vehicle gets unloaded at the Arath with about 150-200 maund (6000-8000kg) of vegetables on average. The market opens early at approximately 4 am when produce is dispersed to other wholesalers and sold to retailers.
To avoid perishable food loss it is important to have a quick transportation system to preserve freshness and reduce rot and decay. Arathdars stated that generally produce should be able to reach the market within a day. Occasionally political instability in the form of hartals (strikes) may extend this time by several days. Existing Dhaka city law enhances the difficulty of getting goods to the market on time as it states that loaded trucks coming to Dhaka are required to wait outside of town until 11pm before entering the city. If the loaded trucks cannot reach their destination in time then it would have to wait until it gets clearance prolonging the waiting time and potentially leading to more devaluation and loss of the produce. This may lead to additional loss depending on local weather and the number of hours spent waiting. Arathdarâ€™s estimates suggested losses resulting of late delivery could be as high as 25% on average (50 kg out of 200kg).
220.127.116.11 Improper handling Other losses that do not occur as a result of late delivery or political instability leads to an estimated 3.1% (5kg of 160 kg) of produce being wasted. According to Arathdars this loss is systemic loss, the result of goods being handled moved and traded within the Arath, and the subsequent bruising and damaging that occurs, and is therefore unavoidable.
18.104.22.168 Seasonality The above losses could vary substantially depending on the season, with seasons playing an integral role in the amount of produce lost. During the peak summer season loss can be as high as 10-15%. Summer heat is one of the main reasons that perishable fruits and vegetables could quickly spoil. Unpredictable and excessive rain also negatively affects the incoming flow of vegetables to the city market. The longer the crops remain at the Arath, the greater its impact on subsequent losses due to seasonal weather conditions. 4.5.2 Day labourers (out of supply chain) The most mobile agent â€œday labourersâ€? have first-hand daily experience of the losses that occur at the Arath. They are therefore a key stakeholder group whose insights have the potential to shed light on the nature of food loss within this market. Interviews were conducted with day labourers who are actively involved with the unloading of raw vegetables from vehicles at the urban Arath during the night. These workers have developed a particularly structured lifestyle that allows them to function effectively within their environment. According to these actors they receive between 400-600Tk (â‚Ź4-6) per night. The particularly busy transaction period starts late at night and ends early in the morning between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. after which wholesalers exit the market. 22.214.171.124 Loss of products and reason IDIs with the respondent day labourers revealed that about 7.5% (stated as 15kg out of 200kg) of vegetables are lost during the unloading process due to the loading methods of vegetables and the resulting bruising that occurs. This waste occurs for most traded vegetables. Below are examples of handling methods the respondent highlighted as being key contributors to losses from damage and bruising:
● Hooks being used to hold, load and unload vegetables in jute sacks from vehicles. ● Inadequate labour: fewer workers available for highly labour intensive roles leads to poor handling. For instance, a load requiring six people would be handled by two people making it impossible to provide the appropriate amount of care when handling the load and lead subsequent damage and loss.
4.6 Bepari Middlemen, locally called Bepari, are the vital action agent and high profit margin maker in the supply chain. Traditionally these middlemen are recognized as dadni merchants. Dadni are ancient old intermediaries of markets in Bangladesh. Our study reveals that some of the intermediaries we have interviewed consider themselves to be dadni merchants. The concept of a dadon is as old as the time of pre-oceanic trade in Bengal. Usually dadni merchants are free traders who carry big business risks as they procure their produce directly from the farmers. Thus, Bepari take the responsibility of transportation and the responsibility to deliver on-time and therefore the risk of loss partly resides at the Bepari. In other words, since every loss eats away from the total revenue earned, Bepari are concerned about losses. For them it makes economic sense to minimize them. However, as shown below, sometimes Bepari overload their trucks to squeeze as much profits out of one ride. The study’s findings reveal the dynamics of perishable food loss at the Bepari level below:
4.6.1 Transportation In-depth discussions with Bepari found that lack of proper transportation creates losses of products. In that regard, an FAO expert mentioned, “The awareness of food loss during transport is limited. Bepari and middlemen do not care too much about losses…they are mostly concerned with making as much money as fast as possible. Overloading, rough handling and rough transport are major reasons for food losses for the middlemen.”
4.6.2 Packaging Middlemen are a key actor in packaging a diversity of vegetables. In Bangladesh modern ways of packaging (such as plastic crates) have only recently been introduced. For the bigger portion
of transport there is still a lack of efficient packaging and handling skills to take care of the food properly. The main reason for this is a lack of awareness about efficient packaging. Combine this with poor infrastructure and equipment and the damage to vegetables is further accelerated. The traditional complexity of the market and distribution channels makes distinguishing between crops and its specific packaging methods extremely difficult. As a result, packaging for a majority of crops is inadequate. Figure 11: Use of hook in Kawran bazar
Source: Authors, 2013
4.7 Analysis of objective 1 Previous sections explore perishable food loss, beginning at the primary producer and ending in at the Arathdar level of the supply chain. The activities of stakeholders such as the Arathdar and the Bepari are similar and even overlap in the context of the rural, semi-urban and urban supply chain. Arathdars bear no risk of food loss but are slightly concerned about losses due to potential economic wins (max 5%). However, Bepari are more concerned about post-harvest food losses because it makes economic sense to minimize them, their gains potentially rise parallel to the amount of food they are able to save.
On the other hand, being the primary producer, farmers try to ensure the quality of their harvest as reduced quality directly effects their ability to sell their harvest for a higher price in crowded markets. Before cultivation, farmers constantly are on the lookout for high market demand in order to receive a fair price after harvesting. With highly perishable fruits and vegetables, farmers need to sell quickly after harvesting and therefore depend on the market price. Due to seasonality, excess supply to the market periodically occurs dropping market prices and leaving the market with the excess produce going to waste. Below portrays the different reasons for post-harvest losses of perishable vegetables identified by this study.
Figure 12: Reasons for post-harvest losses of perishable vegetables
Source: Authors, 2013
Several causes of rough handling and packaging have been identified in the supply chain. As previously mentioned the urban and semi-urban Arathdars are not directly involved in packaging activities but take a 5% commission. If products are subject to losses due to quick, inadequate labour or careless loading/unloading then the Arathdar won’t receive his 5% commission over those lost products. That’s why Arathdars are partially concerned and develop mutual understanding with the middlemen. However, a lack of knowledge and awareness in preventing losses prohibit Bepari from reducing handling and packaging losses which means that loss is higher at the Bepari level. Another problem stimulating food losses is Bangladesh’s unstable political situation. Political unrest expresses itself amongst the population in frequent ‘hartals’. Hartals are general countrywide strikes. These strikes hamper the scheduled transportation of products to its destination causing severe loss of products due to perishability. Every stakeholders in the supply chain mentioned that lack of proper transportation creates losses of products. The day labourers involved in the process of handling/packaging are not fully aware of the loss due to lack of knowledge. For example, a visit to the urban wholesale market locally known as Kawran bazar showed that labourers are using hooks to move green papaya. Although the
workers consider this a faster way to move products from one place to another, the method directly damages them. On a positive note, improved packaging technology has recently been introduced in the supply chain, but it has not spread across all of the regions explored during this study yet. Increasingly, at urban markets like Kawran bazar plastic crates are being used, greatly reducing handling losses. According to more rurally situated supply chain agents, the plastic crates are expensive compared to the traditional jute sack, so it is not widely used in the rural areas. Another reason could be a lack of realization that alternatives to jute sacks exist. Clearly there is significant difference in packaging in different geographic areas. Figure 13: Improved packaging vs. traditional packaging in urban wholesale market
Source: Authors, 2013
4.8 Conclusion of objective 1 After having discussed the different stakeholders involved in the supply chain, we have identified causes for post-harvest perishable vegetable loss at each actor. The main reasons for food loss at the farmer level are insect/pest infestation, rough handling and packaging, drought, erratic climatic behaviour that includes excessive rain and summer heat, late harvesting, and excess supply in the market. Political unrest, lack of proper transportation, lack of efficient handling and proper packaging, and overloading causes loss of product at the Bepari level. Efficient handling and good packaging reduce loss whereas traditional packaging increases loss
at the Arathdar level. In conclusion, it is clear that food loss is an issue at every stage of the supply chain. Perception of the significance of this loss varies amongst key stakeholders involved in the supply chain. One potential solution to reducing losses will be elaborated on in the next chapter: the potential of cold storage facilities. What is more, the effects on agentsâ€™ relationships will be discussed.
Chapter 5 - Findings objective 2 Objective 2: To explore the potential added value of cold storage facility and its effect on stakeholder relationships and bargaining power
5.1 Introduction To determine whether chilling technologies can provide a possible solution for highly perishable vegetables, our second objective explores the potential added value of cold storage facilities for each actor in the supply chain. Also the effect on stakeholder relationships and bargaining power is investigated as these alter when a cold storage facility introduced. The second paragraph will present the potential added value of a cold storage facility for each actor in the supply chain. The third paragraph will elucidate the relationships between the actors in the supply chain in order to understand in which manner a cold storage facility might impact the relationships and bargaining power of actors positively or negatively.
Each stakeholder indicates the perceived value of a potential cold storage. Cold storage facilities enable farmers to hold their produce in order to sell the produce when the demand is high again. However, cold storage is still not common in Bangladesh. Although there are a few running projects as indicated in the literature, cold storage facilities are still rare since such facilities are either unaffordable or unavailable for the majority of farmers, in particular for smallholder farmers. Instead, ambient temperature storage facilities are more present and used by farmers, often for storing semi-perishable vegetables (i.e. potato). Nonetheless the current objective is to explore if chilled storages are of any added value, particularly for perishable vegetables.
5.2 Value to stakeholders 5.2.1 Farmer The primary reason for a farmer to use a cold storage is to maintain the freshness of the product. By storing the produce in a chilled environment the lifetime and sustainability will be extended. Cold storage might also add value to a farmer indirectly as cold storage at the farmer level will avoid severe quality decreases once the produce arrives at the Arathdar with respect to not storing the produce in a cold storage facility. However, among farmers no consensus is reached that the quality of vegetables and fruits will hold.
Namely, farmers indicate that cold storage facilities would ensure more harm to the produce than not having such facility. One of the reasons for farmers to not use chilled technologies is that the quality will decrease and after taking out from storage the crops tend to perish more quickly. Even when farmers will be given an extended period of time to sell their produce, they would rather sell their crops immediately after harvesting to ensure higher freshness and marketability. Since the market and the supply chain functions in this manner, most of the produce is sold rapidly after harvest. Another important reason farmers do not grasp the value of cold storage facilities is that consumers perceive a change of taste of the fruits and vegetables that have been cooled. Quality and taste are of paramount importance for farmers since better tasting produce will fetch a higher price. As such, farmers do not believe added value arises from the use of a cold storage facility.
5.2.2 Bepari Although there is barely any information derived from Bepari in terms of potential value of cold storages, an interview conducted with Bepari from Dhaka indicated that storing seasonal vegetables in cold storage facilities does not add value. They will not benefit from such facilities, as their use will increase the price of the produce. The market for fruits and vegetables is considered highly price elastic; consumers will quickly switch to purchase cheaper produce, which is similar or the same. In this regard one Bepari in Kawran bazar stated: â€œpeople would rather eat rice with mashed potatoes than buy vegetables at a higher price extracted from cold storageâ€?.
5.2.3 Arathdar As with Bepari, Arathdar indicate there is no demand for cold storage. The market system is a fast moving one with markets clearing within a day. The current market in urban areas is perceived by Arathdars as efficient. If a cold storage facility is introduced, the relationship between different market actors may alter, resulting in a change in the status quo. Such a facility will disadvantage Arathdars as it will interfere with the fast-moving market structure as well as lower the product sale price. Hence cold storage is not preferred by Arathdars. In Jessore, a committee of which the Arathdar functions as a chairman runs a cold storage facility. However, this facility was used for storing potato seeds and not for storing seasonal vegetables or similar products intended for the rapid market chain.
Although Arathdars indicated cold storage has no specific value for them, these facilities might still extend the durability of the products in rural areas. By storing the products at low temperatures, the products will perish less quickly, ensuring Arathdars with a greater amount of products. As an example, as found in chapter 4, an Arathdar in Jessore stated that if eggplant, which is highly perishable, is not sold within a day, 1.5-2 kg per 40 kg is lost depending on moment of harvesting. Late harvesting (2 weeks after harvest), for instance, will mean that the products cannot be kept more than 4-5 days. In such cases, cold storage facilities are a significant solution to these short storage periods and produce losses.
5.2.4 Retailer Retailers were not interviewed during the investigation, thus no findings on retailers is available.
5.3 Location findings of specific stakeholder relationships To fulfil our second objective, a significant step in our study is to determine what impact any intervention may have on the relationship between stakeholders in the supply chain. If a cold storage was to be added at a particular point of the supply chain it is important to determine the potential positive or negative effects on stakeholders it may have. In order to understand the
potential effects that any intervention may have it is therefore necessary to review the current relationship between stakeholders, and how the relationship varies in different contexts. This chapter seeks to illuminate some of our findings on the details of the relationship and bargaining power between stakeholders. The chapter is structured as follows: it presents specific findings from our particular field visits to Jessore (dubbed the rural context) and Manikganj (the semiurban context).
5.3.1 Semi-urban setting: Manikganj Both high and low-income farmers in Manikganj expressed discontent with the prices received for their product in the local market. They stated that the price received was nearly on par with the cost of production. These low profit margins were exacerbated by the high cost of inputs such as chemicals, quality seeds, pesticides and fertilizers. Low-income farmers are unable to cope and so reduce expenditure on non-essential inputs like pesticides. The situation is further aggravated by wild price fluctuations as it was said that the price can vary substantially even within a time period of two weeks.
The situation is considerably more challenging for smallholder farmers. Smallholder farmers use all of their income towards their daily subsistence and there is little capital remaining to invest in non-seasonal vegetables. Conversely, medium holder farmers are able to cultivate non-seasonal vegetables because they have capital to invest and thereby the risk of unfavourable weather does not affect their livelihood. The respondents determined that the average net profit of the smallholder farmers is about 10,000Tk (approximately €95) seasonally and even lower when erratic rainfall affects production. To reduce costs, produce is transported to the Arathdars by hand, in baskets, or on occasion by combining funds and renting a vehicle especially among the smallholder farmers.
Medium holder farmers in Manikganj on the other hand stated their profits for Cauliflower to lie between 30,000–35,000Tk (€287-335) and 60,000–65,000Tk (€573-621) per paki (40.47m2) depending on the quantity harvested during the season. Some of the farmers stated that if production is low (<40 Kg) they will sell their produce at the local market and consume a portion for themselves, whereas if production is high (>40 Kg) it is taken to the Arath. Conversely other
farmers put this figure at 20 kg - if production is greater than this figure it is hypothetically taken to the Arath for sale. Medium holder3 farmer’s monthly net profit is about 5,000 – 10,000Tk (€47-95) per paki (40.47m2) with an investment cost of 12,000Tk per paki; although this figure varies according to seasonality.
In Manikganj, the Arathdar functioned in their traditional role as middle-men between farmers, wholesalers and Bepari. Taking a commission of 5% from either buyers or the farmers, their role in facilitating trade between stakeholders is veritable. However, they also have a very strong grip on the market and apparently apply pressure to maintain their market position and force out any attempts that other stakeholders may make to bypass their market position. This was stated to be the case in the market from stakeholder interviews and with interviews with the NGO Solidaridad. If farmers attempt to sell their produce outside of the Arath – something that has occurred in the past- the Arath have arranged that they will be ignored and thus be left with the cost of their unsold produce. This results in a situation where low-income farmers are unable to seek a better price outside of the Arath. They have to rely on the prices set by other stakeholders (namely wholesalers and Bepari) to sell their product through the Arath. Higher-income farmers on the other hand, appear to have more flexibility. Through hiring out transport, they are capable of bypassing the Arath in Manikganj to bring their produce directly to major markets like Dhaka in order to obtain a higher price.
According to the Arathdar in Manikganj, there is no relationship between the Arathdar and the farmer. This indicates that there is little concern by the Arathdar to assure farmers gain an appropriate price for their product.
Medium Farmer: Farm holding having an operated area of 2.50 to 7.49 acres of land (Agriculture Census, 2008)
Figure 14: Illustration of the relationships between stakeholders in Manikganj
Source: Authors, 2013
5.3.2 Rural setting (Jessore) The farmers interviewed in Jessore were marginal and usually maintain seasonal cultivation around the crop calendar. Apart from Aman rice varieties they usually cultivate Onion, Garlic, Green papaya, and pointed gourd. During the time in which this study was conducted the farmers were mainly cultivating pointed gourd/eggplant. Farmers stated that pointed gourd production cost per bigha is around 20,000Tk (â‚Ź190) and the maximum profit is about 30,000Tk (â‚Ź286) per harvest cycle.
After pointed gourd is collected in the morning they hire a local transport to carry the pointed gourd to the local Arath. Farmers try to maximise profit by assessing the value of their produce at local markets through mobile phone. By making phone calls to other farmers aware of local market prices they are able to obtain the most value. Despite attempts to maximise the received value of their produce, the market is generally prone to extreme price fluctuations. According to one respondent the price of pointed gourd/eggplant varies between 30 BDT in the initial harvest season to only 3 BDT later in the harvest season. The reason provided for this extreme variation was the tendency of the market towards oversupply.
Farmers stated that they had no capacity for exporting their product or to bypass the Arathdar. The cost of hiring transport to get their goods to another market was said by Farmers to be too high.
Our findings indicate that in the rural setting (Jessore) the Arathdar does not undertake a usual role. In particular the Arathdar not only assumes the role of commission agent by providing the location for sale, but also functions as a wholesaler and retailer himselfâ€“purchasing goods directly and selling them to retailers and the local market. The Arathdar keeps the product bought from farmers at the Arath for sale on the local market. The carrying cost of bringing the product to the market was said to be borne by the farmers themselves.
The Arthdar in Jessore further functions as a provider of much needed capital for marginal farmers. The capital provided to low-income farmers is given on an interest free basis, but is given under the condition that farmers deliver their product, once harvested, to the Arathdar that provided the credit. Low-income farmers have a strong need for credit in order to fund the initial investment cost of growing their crops. The above-mentioned facts result in a high dependency of low-income farmers on the Arathdar in order to make their livelihood.
The extensive dependency is exacerbated by the market control Arathdar are able to exert as evidence was found for price collusion. Being the main purchasers in Jessore provides the Arathdar with the capacity to manipulate the market. It was stated by local Arathdars in Jessore, Fottepur Village that they are involved in market collusion to some degree. This collusion involves the numerous Arathdar within the village setting the rate at which the produce will be sold â€œby mutual understandingâ€?. The existence of few Arathdar within the rural market seems to allow this form of collusion to take place, as this was not a witnessed phenomenon in the semiurban context.
Figure 15: Illustration of the relationships between stakeholders in Jessore
Source: Authors, 2013
5.4 Analysis of objective 2 5.4.1 Analysis of (non)value of cold storage facility Hassan et al. (2010) suggested that the storage of perishables is the most important post-harvest operation in the fruits and vegetables supply chain to maintain the freshness and increase the durability of farmersâ€™ produce but the findings partially suggest otherwise. In general the findings demonstrated that indeed cold storage increases the duration of their marketability at each stakeholder in the supply chain, likewise the freshness of the products. However, the different stakeholders, in particular the farmer, indicated, the quality and the perishability after storage is worse than without storing the produce.
Although farmers certainly benefit from cold storage as they enable farmers to extend the period of time to sell their produce, more negative than positive aspects were involved with using cold storage facilities. The quality of the product is of most importance for every stakeholder in the supply chain. As such, the supply chain system operates relatively rapidly, causing the harvested crops to arrive at the end consumer in 1 or 2 days. Hence a cold storage is often not preferred or used.
With regards to Bepari and Arathdar, cold storages seemed not to add any significant potential value. Cold storages donâ€™t quite fit into the present market structure, as they will carry too many disadvantages as opposed to advantages. Bepari will usually buy and sell their products on the same day. If Bepari function as a transporter, products will be transferred from the place where the products are bought to where they are sold, at the Arath. Storing fresh products in a cold storage will not be very convenient; such storage will only delay the sale of the fruits and vegetables.
However, retailers will have more benefit of the increased period of time to sell their products by means of cold storage. Retailers buy the products at the Arath, to subsequently sell their products at some particular district or place in the city. In practical sense it would be unrealistic for a retailer to possess storage at the place of sale. Cold storage might be more suitable, financial realizable and might add potential value if, for instance, Arathdar and Retailers own a cold storage at the Arath, where they can store their products. However, if such storage is introduced, irrespective of whether at the Farmer, Bepari, Arathdar or Retailer level, the relationships between different stakeholders will change and the bargaining power of different actors will shift. 5.4.2 Analysis of stakeholder relationships: bargaining power The findings indicate that the relationship between stakeholders is a complex and dynamic one. From the point of harvest to the point of sale at the Arath, the farmer is at a significant disadvantage in terms of bargaining power with other stakeholders. The observed relationship largely confirms the findings of prior studies (Bhuiyan, 2012; Khan, 2012; Hassan et al. 2010; Hassan, 2010).
The bargaining power of farmers was confirmed to be low in relation to other stakeholders (Hassan et al, 2010). The relationship was found to vary significantly with the proximity of the location to a main market hub. Farmers were found to be more vulnerable and dependent on other stakeholders â€“ namely Arathdar- in more rural settings for three apparent reasons. First, the further away the market activity from Dhaka, the lower the capacity for farmers to bypass the Arathdar. This increases the reliance of the farmers on the middle-men to sell their produce. This
was found particularly to be the case in Jessore. By contrast, in Manikganj, high-income farmers were able to completely bypass the local Arathdar altogether by combining funds with other farmers to rent a vehicle and transport their goods directly to Dhaka. This capacity was not witnessed in Jessore. Second, the number of Arathdar was fewer in Jessore than in Manikganj. The number of Arathdar is significant as it increases the bargaining power present for the Arathdar; the fewer the number of Arathdar the greater their influence on market activity. This was most obvious in Jessore, where the Arathdar were capable of fixing the price of the product from the farmers. Third and finally, increased distance may reduce access to capital institutions. The provision of capital from Arathdar to marginal farmers in Jessore may be a consequence of this. With capital provided to marginal farmers being provided in return for a guarantee of produce, this once again reduced the ability of the farmer to negotiate a fair price for his product. Farmers have urgency in the need for initial capital, therefore they are at a disadvantage when negotiating the price of their guaranteed produce in return. The position is not aided by the fact that the number of farmers is so vast and unorganized compared to other stakeholders. With fewer Arathdar and Bepari they would be at a much better position to obtain a higher price for their product. The large number of farmers and their wide dispersion further hinders their capacity to organize in production, self-financing or to obtain a greater price for their product.
5.4.3 Point of intervention Our findings observed a significant disadvantage for farmers in the supply chain relationships with other stakeholders. Any intervention should take this relationship into account and the point of intervention should seek to empower farmers, or at the very least, to not reduce the bargaining power of farmers further. Below is an assessment of points of intervention in relation to stakeholders. From the findings it appears that observations of prior studies that cold storage at each point of the supply chain could reap benefits have value (Hassan, 2010). However, our findings also indicate that not each point of the supply chain presents an equally feasible point of intervention.
126.96.36.199 Farmer Given our findings, Intervention at the farmer level would be the preferred point of intervention in terms of improving bargaining power. According to the provided accounts, farmers are
disadvantaged when selling their product and do not perceive that they receive a fair price for their product. As farmers rapidly need to sell their produce before it decays or is otherwise spoiled there is an urgency to rapidly sell their crop. A cold storage may reduce the urgency of immediate sale for farmers, and with the use of such a facility, farmers could feasibly hold onto crops to await a more favourable price offering, confirming the findings of Khan (2012). Indeed it is also possible as Hassan et al.â€™s (2010) findings suggested that the Bepari could be bypassed completely within the supply chain; potential models to accomplish this objective will be covered in the recommendations section.
188.8.131.52 Arath While the Arathdar within the Arath do not appear to face any bargaining power disadvantage in relation to the other stakeholders, it may nonetheless be an appropriate point of intervention. In the initial supply chain, goods reside within the Arath for a longer duration of time as it awaits sale to retailers or to Bepari. During this period of time, the longevity of the product could be preserved with the use of cold storage. The value of the cold storage on the Arath level varies however, depending on the context (rural, semi-urban, urban). Yet its value is not the same at every Arath, it declines the closer the Arath resides to a market hub. Within the rural context the Arathdar are also a key purchaser and retailer of the goods themselves. The incentives to preserve the value of the product and reduce loss are therefore greater as the risk for lost goods are born by the Arathdar. Furthermore, crops may reside within Arath for a long period of time. However, the strong bargaining power of the Arathdar within the rural context would not be challenged by an intervention. The above lies in contrast to the semiurban context, where the Arathdar functions as a commission agent. In this situation, the incentives are reduced for the stakeholder, as the Arathdar himself retrieves 5% of the traded produce. It is also possible that the goods do not reside at this point of the supply chain for long enough duration of time to warrant intervention. The same applies for the urban context where it was observed that the transaction from Bepari to retailer was rapid (4-5 hours). To conclude, while there does appear to be value of conducting intervention at this point of the supply chain, it is unlikely that this will challenge existing bargaining power relationships.
184.108.40.206 Bepari As a transporter of crops, there is little possibility for intervention at this point of the supply chain in the form of a static facility. However, there may be scope for intervention in the form of refrigerated transport. With the Bepari often bearing some or all of the costs of loss, this stakeholder is in a key point of intervention within the supply chain. With reference to bargaining power, this stakeholder has not been identified as a particularly vulnerable stakeholder group.
5.5 Conclusion objective 2 The analysis demonstrate per stakeholder the potential added value of cold storage facilities and how such an intervention could interrupt the stakeholder relationships and bargaining power. From the analysis can be inferred that no specific stakeholder group grasps the potential value of cold storage. Though stakeholders actually can benefit from cold storage, such a facility is not preferred by any group. There are several issues and problems accompanied with storing perishable fruits and vegetables, which do not outweigh the benefits. One significant aspect of this potential intervention is the alteration of the various stakeholder relationships and their influences. Our analysis has determined the vulnerability and influences of various stakeholder groups. Farmers were recognized as an extremely vulnerable stakeholder group in monetary and influential terms. The Arathdar, by contrast were found to be a particularly potent stakeholder group. This group was found to possess substantial influence within the observed rural and semiurban settings. It was therefore determined that intervention should avoid heightening the vulnerability of farmers, and would at best challenge existing stakeholder relationships.
Taking the above-mentioned factors into account the determined preferred points of intervention for a cold storage facility are the Farmer or Arathdar level, with particular scope seen for the Arathdar level on a practical level. Intervention at the farmer level could foreseeably have the intended consequence of increasing this stakeholderâ€™s bargaining power in the form of remuneration for their crops, however it was found to be less viable on a practical level. Alternatively, all stakeholders see introducing a cold storage at the level of the Arathdar as the
most practical point of intervention due to the Araths use for a relatively long duration of time. Intervention at this level could be issued with little foreseeable negative consequences on the Farmer level. There was found to be no scope for intervention on the level of the Bepari.
5.6 Recommendations objective 2 5.6.1 Model 1 The above findings illustrate some scope for intervention to alter the existing supply chain with a more efficient intervention that could in turn improve stakeholder relationships. The first model is based on discussions with BRAC AFSP and Solidaridad. Both these organisations are investigating potential intervention that could bypass the Bepari and allow farmers to achieve a more equitable share of the profits.
BRAC AFSP envisaged a model of cold storage that may see an NGO cooperating with local farmer cooperatives to enable a more empowered solution for farmers. Under this model organised farmers under a cooperative would transport crops to the cold storage. In addition to bypass the current farmer-Arathdar loan system prevalent in rural areas, a â€œself-help saving mechanismâ€? could be utilised- which is a form of communal financing where an organisation of farmers provide loans for each other, with the potential support of an NGO. This model has two variations in form, either farmers sell their product to the NGO who run the cold storage, or they could rent space within the cold storage and sell it as they see fit. The latter is similar to the currently piloted model of Brac Cold Storage in Jessore.
The BRAC AFSP model is illustrated by the graphic below:
Figure 16: The BRAC AFSP model
Source: BRAC AFSP
Solidaridad envisages a unique solution to challenge current stakeholder relationships by bypassing the Bepari and the Arathdar. Their current project seeks to empower farmers by providing a market space that is reachable and open in which they could store their product and obtain a fair price for their product. This market space would function as a replacement to the Arath and would essentially be a supermarket in which retailers and consumers could purchase their product. The community would arrange the ownership of this supermarket and the investors would have a share in the ownership and profits.
5.6.2 Model 2 Another potential point of intervention could be to place cold storage within the existing Araths. It is a practical point of intervention as it does not require the reconfiguration of the current supply chain and could cool produce at a location where it is immobile for a relatively extended period; in this sense it is a functionally appropriate point of intervention. Convincing stakeholders of the value of this point intervention may be easier than the models mentioned previously. This model however, does not foreseeably challenge current stakeholder relationships and in particular is unlikely to improve the bargaining power of farmers.
5.6.3 Model 3 A third suggested potential model is to introduce a cold storage at the Retailer level. Smallholder retailers have the incentive to sell their newly bought products immediately as most vegetables are perishable and deteriorate quickly. Since quality is of high importance and price is dependent on the condition of the product, retailers are reasoned to sell their produce the same day as arrival of produce in order to receive a fair price, especially because overnight deterioration will reduce the selling price to minimum.
Cold storage could empower smallholder retailers by ensuring them a fair price. When products are stored overnight, retailers are still able to sell their products against a reasonable price next morning. By storing the perishable products the retailer has then the opportunity to sell fresh and expensive as well as stored and less expensive products. The price segmentation could be of great value for poor people, as it will provide them a chance to buy relatively fresh products the next morning for an affordable price.
Furthermore cold storage could potentially empower a potential retailer-farmer community, as the community could provide the opportunity to farmers to bypass the system and sell immediately to retailers. As a lack of farmer cooperatives is common practice in Bangladesh, farmers do not easily have the opportunity to cooperate with other farmers and retailers in order to ensure a fair price. By making a system where small-scale cooperation initiatives are facilitated, such farmer-retailer cooperatives could aid farmers to bypass the system, which, subsequently might lead to a reduction of post-harvest losses of perishables.
5.7 Recommendations Further research needs to be done on actors within the supply chain and alternative points of implementation. In particular, while this study has observed the Farmer and Arathdar stakeholder groups closely, the Bepari and Retailer groups have not received enough consideration. It would be of value to study the feasibility of refrigerated transport in the supply chain and further to research what refrigerated storage solutions may be applicable for retailers.
5.8 Limitations to the pilot programme initiation The establishment of the above stated models may not only empower farmers and reduce losses along the supply chain. It would also serve as a pilot programme and proof of concept, which could demonstrate the benefits of cold storage to other stakeholder groups. Potentially leading to its imitation and subsequent implementation.
A major problem with a pilot programme for cold storage is the lack of electricity in most areas. This limitation has prevented permissions for even small cold storage facilities of 8 metric tons from being installed. So while cold storage may be a viable solution to improving stakeholder relationships, this key hurdle first needs to be overcome. Solar panel facilities have been identified as a potential solution and an overview of its feasibility will be provided in the next section of this paper.
Chapter 6 - Findings of objective 3 Objective 3: To identify the potential of utilizing solar powered cold storage facilities in Bangladesh
6.1 Introduction Chapter 4 (objective 1) showed us what the food loss problem entails at different agents in the supply chain in Bangladesh, while chapter 5 (objective 2) showed us where and how cold storages could add value in this supply chain. The current chapter will examine the possibility of making use of solar energy in powering cold storage facilities.
As seen in the literature review, cold storage is a potentially effective solution to the food loss problem faced in Bangladesh. Moreover, it could serve as an intervention for the flaws in the supply chain by empowering weaker links, especially smallholder farmers. But spending some time in Bangladesh quickly makes you aware of the energy problems faced in the country. Load shedding goes by unnoticed since it is part of daily occurrences. People in rural areas are lucky to have electricity at all as 70% of the rural areas have to do without. Thus, cold storage facilities, needing a huge amount of electricity, might not be the first thing to come to the mind of the farmer that is not connected to the grid. Therefore, modern storage facilities for fruits and vegetables are virtually absent in Bangladesh (Hassan, 2010). However, one other noticeable aspect of the country not to be missed is the abundance of sunlight. As Eltawil & Samuel (2007) point out, solar panels can serve as an alternative source of energy for powering cooling systems. This creates opportunities for solar energy to start playing a role in decreasing food losses in Bangladesh (Desideri et al., 2009; Khan et al., 2012).
This chapter will first set out to describe the general market context of solar energy in Bangladesh, it will then describe a highly relevant pilot study the team ran into while in Jessore, and will then continue to present findings from interviews conducted in Bangladesh with solar
energy firms. These findings are split up in the technical and economic feasibility of solar systems for cold storage purposes and the governmental policy with respect to solar energy.
6.2 General market context Solar energy has gained significant momentum over the last decade in Bangladesh. The World Bank (2012) announced a rise from 7,000 to over 1.4 million solar systems installed in less than a decade. Where does this exponential growth come from? A first and rather obvious reason is a slow but continuing rise of the price of fossil fuels worldwide. Combine this trend with the trend of ever decreasing prices for solar PV panels, and the skyrocketing demand is explained. See Figure 17 from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) for the average prices per watt produced by solar panels for the last 20 years. However, prices alone do not complete the story. A slow pace of grid connections by the government and the growing scale of cell-phone penetration among rural citizens explain the need for an alternative electricity source. With over an estimated 155 million people of which an estimated 70% are not connected to the grid, these factors have created a vast new potential for off-grid solar systems in Bangladesh.
Figure 17: Trend of prices for solar PV panels
Source: Energy Information Administration, 2011
Since this research is concerned with the implementation of solar systems for storage facilities it is relevant to know the specifics of average solar home systems that are currently widely sold. Since BRAC has its own enterprise selling systems like these, a closer look is given to their Standalone Solar Home System (SSHS). BRAC has installed 72,470 of its SSHS units (BRAC Solar, 2013). Prices for these systems range from 16,500 to 42,000 taka which customers are able to pay through monthly instalments. Solar panels provided range from 20W panels to 60W panels and batteries provided range from 15Ah to 80Ah. Where the cheapest is able to supply electricity to only a few LED lights and a mobile phone charger, the more expensive options can handle a fan, lights and even colour television.
While the expansion of off-grid solar home systems is impressive, a SSHS would not suffice for powering a A/C cooling a fruit/vegetable storage facility. As to our knowledge before commencing on the field trips, no such system was present in Bangladesh yet, and therefore no knowledge or data on such an initiative was present. However, while on a field trip to Jessore our
team ran into a pilot cold storage facility managed by the Bangladesh Potato Institute and funded by BRAC agriculture and the University of California. However, no report has been published yet on the results and feasibility of this pilot case. Therefore a good start for examining the feasibility of solar powered cold storage facilities was by interviewing experts from companies that had been pushing the success of the SSHS. Companies/institutions interviewed were Bengal Solar, The Bangladesh Potato Institute (BPI), Parasol, BRAC Cold Storage and BRAC Solar.
By describing the Jessore pilot study to experts and asking for their perspective on its feasibility, the team has been able to much better understand the possibilities but also problems occurring when powering cold storage facilities with solar energy. The following section describes the Jessore pilot, while sections after it discuss the feasibility of cold storage facilities.
6.3 Jessore: a valuable case study Figure 18 shows a selection of photos portray the cold storage facility encountered during the field trip to Jessore. The facility has the following specifications: ● An upfront investment of 500,000tk ● 1.5 ton A/C ● Panel 2,200 watts ● Storage capacity 8 ton4 ● On-grid & backed up by a generator
1 ton = 1000kg
Figure 18: The cold storage facility in Jessore
Source: Authors, 2013
This specific cold storage facility is one out of two storage facilities under the pilot of the Bangladesh Potato Institute and is not powered by solar energy. The other facility ís powered by solar panels with backed up power coming from the grid. It is similarly sized as the one we observed. These storage facilities are used to store potato seeds. These seeds can be kept for over 9 months in the cold environment. The costs for the solar powered facility are slightly higher though with the facility costing about 700.000taka (€6.665) and the additional solar panel installation priced at another 400.000taka (€3.800) to 500.000taka (€4.760). The humidity of these facilities is controlled by placing large bowls of water inside the facility or by opening the door for a few hours in order to create appropriate humidity levels inside.
The reason this facility only holds potato seeds currently is because it is not economically feasible yet for perishable products to be stored in this way. In fact, by storing potato seeds, economics feasibility is not guaranteed either. A lot of money is pumped into this pilot facility by the managing NGO’s to explore the future potential of this and similar storages. More on economic feasibility is elucidated in section 6.5.
Another difficulty encountered is that different vegetables and fruits need different temperatures and within this facility it is hard to strictly maintain the right temperatures. With the door opening regularly, for example, some products are more likely to rot faster. The Bangladesh
Potato Institute is planning to store spices such as ginger, turmeric, dried chillies, etc. during the off-season of potato so that this storage is fully utilized. These crops are considered nonperishable products though.
Having described the main features of the cold storage facility in Jessore, the next sections will highlight the feasibility of using solar to cool storage facilities.
6.4 Technical feasibility Interviews with representatives from local solar panel companies provided us with insight into the technical feasibility of solar powered storage facilities. A major concern that is shared by all such companies relates to the way the cold storage facilities are to be provided with power, as they believe that there is not enough electricity produced in most areas to run cold storage facilities. This is one of the reasons why the government is not able to give permissions for such cold storage facilities to be connected to the grid, even if the storage facility is as small as 8 metric tons. In this sense the above-mentioned pilot studies should be considered an exception. Though it would therefore seem to be quite logical to explore a solar solution, it quickly became apparent that there will be some difficulties with the implementation of this solution. Firstly, up until now there is just one working example of a solar powered storage facility, and therefore valuable first-hand insights are scarce. Secondly, a good number of companies have admitted not to have looked into the technical feasibility of this solution in great detail for a number of reasons revolving around economic infeasibility and government regulations which will be explained in the coming two sections of this chapter. The lack of feasibility studies unfortunately hinders a more accurate understanding of the technical feasibility of solar powered storage facilities. Despite there are still some notable insights that can be derived from the conducted interviews.
As can be derived from the above mentioned case study, a given solar powered storage facility could be in need of around 1.5 ton A/C5. The problem with A/C, however, is that it requires a large initial current, something that is not possible to accomplish in the rural areas prone to long 5
The cooling provided by melting 1.5 ton (=1500 kg) of ice in a day.
interrupted hours of power supply. Furthermore, making use of solar panels to power the facility would lead to some additional complications. For one, to power large cold storage facilities with solar panels, one would need a large amount of solar panels - more than the roof could handle. Besides that, it is also unrealistic to depend solely on solar panels because of the changes in the weather. Without sunlight there is no power. Therefore, in addition to the solar panels it is necessary to either be connected to the grid during off-sun hours or have a generator backup, even though it is possible for the solar panels to have battery back-up as well - meaning that they are able to store excess energy during sun-hours to use during off-sun hours. Unfortunately, as a large part of the rural area is not connected to the grid, the first solution does not seem to be realistic. To add to these problems, it is estimated that a maximum of only 1 ton A/C can be powered by solar panels, and that it should be taken into account that those panels have a battery life span of just 2 to 3 years.
Indeed, the solar panel solution does not appear to be free of difficulties, yet there are still some positives to be taken into account. For starters, the solar panels can be used to power the more conventional -and generally smaller- fridges, meaning that there is at least some scope to store certain vegetables in cold storage. It is to be expected, however, that this will not even remotely cover the large quantities of fresh produce that need to be stored by farmers and other actors in the supply chain. Second, regarding the components of the solar system, there is no specific policy up until now for the disposal of the micro-transmitter and panels, since there are no dangerous chemicals present in those parts. The battery, on the other hand, needs to be recycled in a special factory. Before that point, however, the battery can last up to approximately six years, and a fully charged battery has a capacity for three days, meaning that it is monsoonproof. The whole system is weather-proof for that matter, as the respondents claim that the system is quite robust. Furthermore, the micro-transmitter has an equally long projected lifetime of up to six years, and the panels themselves only decline in efficiency by approximately 10% every ten years. On top of that it has been stated that all these parts have a long-lasting warranty period ranging from respectively three to twenty years. Finally, from the interviews it has become clear that the use of different technologies -available outside of Bangladesh- may have a positive effect on the technical feasibility of solar powered storage facilities in Bangladesh. For
example, solar powered fridges can be bought from Japanese counterparts. Some of the companies are interested to start with small-scale pilot programs to explore this solution.
6.5 Economic feasibility Although solar panels are rising in popularity for home purposes all over the off-grid rural areas, they are far from being economically feasible if compared to on-grid electricity. A simple comparison between the average costs of solar electricity and grid electricity reveals the gap. Whereas on-grid electricity costs around 7tk (€0,07) per kw, electricity from home solar installations cost 25tk (€0,25) per kw stretched over 20 years -because that is roughly the lifetime of the panel- and including replacement costs of batteries, inverters and maintenance costs. In other words, although in a decline (see next section), financial government support is still needed to create affordable propositions for the poor living off-grid. Obviously, what is not included in the cost analysis above is the financial gain from having electricity in their homes where there was none before.
What does this mean for the economic feasibility of powering cold storage facilities with solar energy? What came out of the expert responses it that commercially a cold storage facility is not feasible yet due to a couple of factors.
First of all, some of the key technical issues encountered create economic obstacles. Take for example the replacement costs for the vital parts in the Jessore case study solar system. Due to a battery life of only 2-3 years, every such period needs an investment of 6,000tk (€60) to get a battery replaced. But for the more expensive part: the 85,000tk (€850) micro-inverter needs to be replaced every 5-6 years. Combine these costs with the initial investment of over a million taka (ten thousand euro) and maintenance costs of 1,000tk (€10) a year, and it quickly becomes apparent why storage facilities like the one in Jessore are not commercially viable yet.
Secondly, an economic constraint lies in the lack of long term vision and investment willingness of the people for which a solar powered cold storage facility might be a solution. The only current possibility would be to convince a community that collaborative financing for such a
project benefits everyone involved. What is more, the community will need training before being able to extract maximum value from owning a cold storage, unlike the ease of use of a SSHS; bringing along additional costs.
As a last burden on the economic feasibility is the inability to sell back to the grid once the system produces more energy than is necessary to run itself, unlike in the case study example from Malaysia (chapter 2.6). Technically, selling back to the grid is possible and it could be a great opportunity to earn back some of the costs involved in owning a solar energy system. Unfortunately government regulation does not allow selling back to the grid. The next section will elaborate on these government policies in greater detail.
Concluding on a positive note, solar energy will perhaps in the future be of major importance in providing power to cold storage due to the rising costs of alternative sources of energy production. Making economic feasibility studies into solar energy generation crucially important.
6.6 Government policy Closely related to the technical and economic feasibility of the solar panel solution are the governmental regulations. The respondents stress that the government has the power to both restrict and support the use of solar panels, and consequently any cold storage solutions that involve solar panels. One could even go as far as to say that supportive governmental regulations are a prerequisite to build both technically and economically feasible solar powered cold storage facilities. This line of thought has been mentioned and supported by several companies in the solar panel business. More specifically, it is mentioned that solar panels are not cost effective without government subsidies.
Fortunately, there is a common belief among the respondents that the government will continue to be supportive â€“to at least a certain extent- regarding solar panel-driven solutions, as some have indicated they are having fruitful negotiations with the government. This is supported by the actual actions of the government over the last couple of years, as for example they have subsidized home systems from 2002 onwards. One the other hand, however, they recently
reduced these subsidies because of the belief that it has run long enough to be self-financed. Regarding this matter, it has to be clarified that the funding does not necessarily have to come from the government; other third parties could be the source of funding as well. Nonetheless, if this is the case, government consent and support is still necessary. Therefore it becomes apparent that there is no way to circumvent the government when it comes to solar panel solutions, and stressing the need to take a closer look at their regulations.
Among the positive interventions, besides the already mentioned government subsidies are grants that are provided to end-consumers. These grants help to improve the economic feasibility of solar panel solutions, because it reduces the investment costs for potential buyers. Thereby it becomes clear that the government has supportive regulations on both the end of the manufacturer and the end-consumer. Furthermore, although not directly related to cold storage facilities, the government wants new buildings to be powered for 3 to 10% by solar energy. At the very least this will lead to a higher awareness of solar panel functionalities and applications, which in turn may lead to helpful insights regarding the solar powered cold storage facilities.
Unfortunately, on the other side of the spectrum the government also imposes negative regulations that do not further the implementation of solar panel solutions. For instance, a high taxation on high energy consuming electric units and devices definitely hinders the promotion of innovation. Indeed this also applies to solar driven appliances such as solar fridges. Remarkably solar panels are not taxable, only the fridges (i.e. electric devices) have high taxes. To clarify the problem with more exact numbers, it has been communicated that the government imposes a stunningly high import duty of up to 400% for high energy consuming electric units and devices. Obviously this is one of the reasons why the solar panel cold storage solutions are not economically feasible as mentioned in the previous section. On top of that, it can be stated that the problem of not being able to sell back to the grid flows from unfavourable government regulations as well. As mentioned by some of the respondents, the government does not provide the opportunity for individual families to sell back to the grid.
6.7 Analysis objective 3 From March until October the average daily maximum temperature is around 32 degrees Celcius. If Davies (2005) is correct about solar cooling systems being able to maximize lower summer temperatures by 15 degrees Celsius, then a minimum temperature for the hottest moment of a summer day would be 18 degrees Celcius inside a storage facility. Kitinoja and Kader (2003) have done research into the recommended temperature and humidity of vegetables. If maintained, they also calculated the approximate storage life of these vegetables during which they stay safe to consume (see table 5). Clearly, as seen from the table, none of the vegetables would be perfectly preserved in a cooling facility that gets as warm as 18 degrees Celsius daily. One could indeed question the added value of solar power cold storage if it does not extend storage life sufficiently.
Table 5: Temperature, relative humidity and approximate storage life of important vegetables
Source: Hassan, 2010
This might also be a reason for the identified pilot studies -Eltawil & Samuel (2007) in India; the Jessore pilot by the Bangladesh potato institute- to first check the added value of cold storage for semi-perishable products like potatoes and potato seeds. Highly perishable vegetables might in their nature not be products for which solar panel powered cold storage might be a preservation solution.
Another complicating factor in examining the feasibility of solar powered cold storage facilities is the lack of data of a running facility in Bangladesh simply because there is none yet. This makes a comparison with the identified case studies in the literature review impossible.
However, the case studies from the literature, while not directly comparable, could be considered success stories of solar energy. They prove the technical feasibility of such systems for cooling purposes. The biggest problem of solar panel powered cold storage facilities complicating the implementation, and perhaps even experimentation in Bangladesh, is the cost aspect.
The Government of Bangladesh could make a substantial difference in the attractiveness of solar energized storage facilities. If selling back to the grid is enabled, one solar system could not only power a storage facility but the village it is located in. This has already been a proven possibility in the Malaysia case study in the literature review (chapter 2.6).
6.8 Conclusion objective 3 Based on the above-mentioned findings and analysis, the main research question of this chapter can be answered; what is the potential of utilizing solar powered cold storage facilities in Bangladesh?
Given the aforementioned positives and negatives regarding the feasibility of solar powered storage facilities, it is possible to roughly understand which major factors would come into play and have an effect on the feasibility of such facilities. First, although the demand for solar panels has increased due to a combination of rising fossil fuel prices and decreasing prices of solar panels â€“which should obviously be considered a positive development for solar solutions- more has to be taken into consideration. For one, the role of the government should not be underestimated. As mentioned in the analysis, currently in Bangladesh there is a gap between what is possible and what is allowed. The Malaysia case study (chapter 2.6) indicates that it is indeed possible to sell back to grid for instance. In the case of Bangladesh, however, it has become apparent that the government regulations do not foresee or support this need. An important conclusion is that the government regulations are not consistently supportive of solarbased solutions; on the one hand they are supportive in the form of subsidies, on the other hand they do not provide the possibility of selling back to the grid, and they maintain a high import
duty for high energy consuming electrical devices. These institutional barriers need to be overcome before solar panel utilisation can become feasible.
The above-mentioned points for improvement are mostly related to economic concerns, and even if these points are addressed properly, there still remains the issue that on-grid electricity is a cheaper solution. Therefore, should the government decide to expand the grid to more rural areas, any investments in solar based solutions could be in vain. With regards to the technical feasibility it has to be stated that there are numerous difficulties as well, ranging from the need to use an overwhelming number of solar panels to power a large storage facility, to the need for a large initial current to power the air-conditioning. The biggest problem, however, seems to be the lack of data coming from up-and-running solar powered storage facilities. To illustrate, there was one storage facility in Jessore; not powered by solar panels and only used for the storage of potatoes. Obviously, this leaves many questions unanswered.
The ones who are interested in an all-encompassing report regarding the exact requirements of solar powered storage facilities unfortunately have to be disappointed at this point; to fully comprehend the exact details to build solar powered cold storage facilities has proven to be a step too far. The current state of knowledge within Bangladesh regarding this solution has yet to gain momentum, which is obviously reflected in the findings. It has to be said though, that the respondents were excited to follow the developments of solar powered cold storage facilities, or even actively contribute themselves if more details are known and the conditions to build such a facility are favourable. Fortunately, regarding this last point- the conditions that are needed to build solar powered cold storage facilities- this chapter can function as a first step into gaining a better understanding of the economic, technical, and government-related requirements that come along when building solar powered cold storage facilities.
To answer the main question of this chapter, however, for now it has to be concluded that it is not recommendable to build solar powered storage facilities, because â€“although within the supply chain there was some interest to preserve crops for a longer period of time- it is both economically and technically not feasible at the moment. On top of that the inconsistent governmental regulations are at the heart of even more difficulties with regard to implementing
such a solution. On a positive note, if these points are addressed – in other words if the current regulatory conditions become more favourable and more impact studies are conducted- this is definitely an option that is worth looking into.
6.9 Recommendations This report can function as a first step to gain a better understanding of all the requirements – both economic and technical- which come along when building solar powered cold storage facilities and, as can be derived from the conclusions above, there are still many questions to be answered. Therefore, other researchers are welcome to use this report as a foundation for future research in order to fill the gaps. To this end, this chapter proposes a number of possible starting points. First of all, there is a lack of ‘hard numbers’ in terms of costs and technical requirements. Thus far mostly rough estimates are used, making it difficult to come up with detailed advice regarding both the economic and technical feasibility of the solar powered storage solution. Therefore, a major contribution to this research would be the finding of those numbers. Based on the interviews conducted so far it would seem that many companies would deem such a contribution as valuable information for them to base their future actions on regarding solar panel storage solutions. It would also be recommendable to closely follow the progress and results of for example on-going FAO, USAID and BRAC studies, like the pilot study in Jessore.
Secondly, during the course of this research it became clear that a biomass solution -as opposed to the solar panel solution- might be a possibility as well. There are already studies being conducted regarding this topic, and in India biomass is already used in small research programs. It would still be relevant to know, however, what the government regulations in Bangladesh are concerning a possible biomass solution, and how the actors in the supply chain value such a solution. Although it is not directly of importance to this research, it might be relevant to explore this option synchronous to the further exploration of the solar panel solution, so in case the solar panel storage solution turns out to no longer be a feasible possibility, it might be possible to revert to a biomass solution.
Chapter 7 - Concluding remarks This project has set out to address three separate, though interrelated objectives. To begin with, it sought to investigate the issue of food loss along the supply chain and why, how and where this this waste occurs.
In turn the researchers discovered some revealing thoughts on food loss. Certain factors were recognized across the rural, semi-urban and urban stratification to be substantial causes. Arathdar and Bepari both recognized erratic climate and excess supply to be primary factors that lead to loss. At the Arathdar level poor packaging and handling methods were recognized as leading to losses, however, it was only perceived as a significant cause by the Arathdars in Dhaka while in the semi-urban (Manikganj) and rural (Jessore) settings it was not perceived to be sufficient enough to warrant action. This is surprisingly the case despite high estimates given by the stakeholders themselves of the percentage of food lost to such practices. Further food loss was found to be caused by commodities being brought late to market by residing within trucks, the Arath, or even at farms for an excessive period of time, thus inducing rot. This finding is significant, as it does indeed indicate that there may be strong value in improved storage methods.
The second objective was to find out what value, both perceived and practical, may be present through establishing a cold storage at any one point of the supply chain. Further it was to assess what the current stakeholder relationships were and to suggest how this may affect the potential placement of a cold storage. Although objective one found loss was present and pervasive, all assessed stakeholders along the supply chain did not perceive any value in establishing a cold storage at their point of the supply chain. Perceptions persist that cold storage alters the value and increases the cost of the product, a significant concern in an already crowded market. If intervention was to occur however, it was concluded that any intervention should seek to empower farmers. Farmers were found to be vulnerable, marginalized, unorganized and lacking in bargaining power in relation to other stakeholders. Thus we concluded that intervention at the farmer or the Arath level would be appropriate, as it is not anticipated that intervention at these
levels would negatively affect this stakeholder group. Pushing this forward, three different models were given that could enhance the bargaining power of the farmer by organizing farmers and bypassing some or all of the other dominant stakeholder groups. These models are best implemented through a third party, for instance an NGO, which may serve to demonstrate the benefits of cold storage facilities to existing stakeholder groups.
A major roadblock to any implementation of such a model is the unreliable grid system in Bangladesh, for which solar panels were found to be a potentially ideal solution. The third objective investigated the feasibility of this solution and the findings were substantial. While solar panels are certainly a potential solution in theory it was found to be currently economically and technically unfeasible. Economically, the price of solar PV cells havenâ€™t yet declined to a stage where it is a more economical solution than grid energy, and further the industry is heavily reliant on subsidies and grants provided by the government. Through discussions with solar panel companies in Bangladesh, the researchers found that the technologically recommended machinery does exist but is currently unavailable in Bangladesh, in part due to national tax rates. While it was concluded that it is not economically and technologically feasible yet, the situation may change in the future and currently there are further studies that are continuing to investigate its feasibility, the results of which are important to watch closely.
Chapter 8 â€“ Limitations The study does suffer some limitations, which should be taken into account when drawing conclusions from the research. Despite the study finding broad correlations between different regional contextual perspectives, it may be possible that some of the views expressed are not necessarily representative of the general population or stakeholder group, but may be particular to their perspective or locality. Therefore, while the broader strokes of our findings hold significant weight, some of the particular anecdotal admissions may lack wide generalizability.
Secondly, during the conduct of our study it became clear that conceptually separating stakeholders into specific, separate groups might at times have limited significance. Stakeholder roles are far from static, and while many actors do maintain their role, some actors may frequently change roles. For instance, an Arathdar may at one time function as a Bepari or vice versa. This overlap in stakeholder roles, limit the effectiveness of our attempts to isolate the different actorsâ€™ goals and incentives.
Third, it is possible that there is some bias in the answers provided during the conduct of IDIs and FGDs. The researchers were not always able to separate the different stakeholders during the interviews and discussions and it is possible that the presence of other stakeholders may have prompted socially appropriate responses. This is a particular risk when the actors are professionally dependent. For instance, this situation occurred in Jessore where both farmers and Arathdars were simultaneously present during FGDs and IDIs.
Fourth, the presence of the interviewers themselves may have led to respondent bias. It is possible that the respondents may have suspected the potential for intervention and given answers to prompt or negate intervention. This limitation was anticipated however, and the researchers took due consideration of this potential factor when designing the structure and phrasing of the questionnaire.
Finally it could also be noted that the interviews and discussions may have been hindered by the limitations of language and translation. The FGDs and IDIs were conducted in Bengali and then summarized into English during post hoc discussions using audio recordings of the field visit. There is a possibility that some of the qualitative richness of the data may have been lost in this process.
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