Fund for African Rural Innovation Promotion

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Scheduled Cargo Service for rural villages

Transport is by far the biggest operational headache in marketing agricultural products in East Africa. It is also by far the biggest middle cost. A huge part of that cost is due to transport being unreliable, haphazard and entirely opportunistic. This then allows to only do spot-marketing. The inefficiency of transport is presently the biggest bottleneck to improve value-chain operations.

Francis and Rajan came up with the idea that a Scheduled Cargo Service could be developed: A truck operates exactly like a bus, leaving and arriving at fixed timetables, whether it is full or not. And it reliably sticks to its schedules that are known by all. Space for cargo can be booked at booking offices in advance. Thereby these trucks run exactly like the known bus-services, except that they sell tickets for bags and boxes and baskets instead of for people.

On the last trip of FARIP in July we managed to work through all the issues we could think of for launching such a venture. They want to gain first experiences with a small truck running the 80 km between Makungu and Makambako with stops at the main centers of Isaula, Kitandililo, Nyamande and Nyigo villages. It is a really new idea, and we have no doubts there is a lot to learn how to run this that we may not have thought about. But it’s really worth a try: If Francis and Rajan together with TBM can learn how to run this service and it can therefore be scaled up, this would be a major breakthrough for increasing incomes of farmers and making them more reliable. It will allow to organize in advance the deliveries to customers in town. 

The Board of farip has accepted this effort as an active venture. farip is now searching for funds for a first small truck so that Francis and Rajan can start to learn what needs to be learned to make this work. From September 2019 onwards we are launching a fundraising campaign to raise the estimated 20’000 CHF to get this started.