Preparations for the Pitch Day
During the past week the IGNITE Food Systems Challenge BootCamp took place at the UNDP Accelerator Lab in Juba. Two team members from each of the 16 selected startups were allowed to participate, including Ogebe and Nyager from NILE ORGANICS. UNDP South Sudan organized the BootCamp to nurture young entrepreneurs and innovators. Entrepreneurship and innovation are crucial to address development challenges and food insecurity in South Sudan. Food Systems Innovators have been introduced to efficiently and solution-oriented refine their business models to fight hunger in South Sudan. Opportunities and challenges in agribusiness in South Sudan were identified and evaluated. The intensive and very helpful BootCamp served to empower the young entrepreneurs, equipping them with the skills and know-how to take their ideas and businesses to the next level. The conclusion and highlight of the IGNITE Food Systems Challenge will be the PITCH DAY, which will take place in Juba on May 11th. The BootCamp was a very good preparation for the pitch. Now our team from NILE ORGANICS is preparing and looking forward to this highlight event.
We applied and were actually shortlisted
Last December, NILE ORGANICS decided - like many other companies from the South Sudanese startup community - to take part in the "IGNITE Food Systems Challenge" organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Food Programme (WFP). A total of 255 South Sudanese companies took part in the application process and presented their ideas and business models in writing. On March 18, 2022, UNDP informed us that 16 startups had been selected from the pool of 255 applicants and had been shortlisted. NILE ORGANICS is grateful and delighted to be one of these selected startups. What does that mean for us and how does this process continue? First of all, it is a great honor for us to have been selected from such a large number of applicants. This success and the recognition of our work by such renowned organizations as UNDP and WFP strengthens our reputation and will certainly impress our customers, our shareholders and perhaps also potential partners. Next, part of our team will be invited to participate in a boot camp at UNDP's Accelerator Lab in Juba. We are very excited to see what our people will learn there and how the process will continue.
Outlook into the future of farming
Our team from NILE ORGANICS is planning the implementation of Agri-Photovoltaic Systems (Agri-PV) in the medium term, in order to be able to supply the farms themselves with the electricity they need with the help of renewable energy. Agri-photovoltaics describes a process for the simultaneous use of agricultural land for food production and PV power generation. The technology enables the efficient dual use of agricultural land: photovoltaics in open spaces can be substantially expanded without significantly consuming valuable resources in fertile arable land. Through targeted light management, the yields from PV and photosynthesis are optimized and, in addition, agri-photovoltaic systems reduce the water consumption required for the irrigation systems. This technology was invented and is largely being developed in Germany. That is why the NILE ORGANICS team intends to work closely with the German Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE as a potential technology partner. A collaboration with the University of Juba is conceivable for the development and construction of the pilot system. © Image: Fraunhofer ISE
Cooperation Nile Organics & Areos Group
In the POCHALLA region in the east of our home country, the German-Swiss Areos Group is currently developing its first large-scale farm project in the Republic of South Sudan. An area totaling 5,000 hectares is to be cultivated in an environmentally friendly manner in the form of agroforestry and prepared for grain production. The company intends to produce the grain exclusively for the national market and stands ready as a future supplier for the World Food Programme (WFP), which must import around 500,000 metric tons of grain every year in order to be able to successfully reduce hunger in South Sudan. Our NILE ORGANICS team works locally in partnership with the Areos Group to leverage synergies. We are already helping with the establishment of the first arable land for testing different types of plants, with recruiting employees, we help with field irrigation and with the transport of equipment and seeds. In return, the Areos Group will plan, finance and build our Farmer Business School in POCHALLA. This vocational training center will be operated by NILE ORGANICS in the future and will become an elementary part of our social impact approach.
Insights into the startup community
On Friday the 3rd of December the South Sudan Business EXPO 2021 took place in partnership with Chamber of Commerce & UNDP South Sudan. At the event more than 30 companies — from leading corporations to start-ups and SME’s — presented their goods and services and also WFP South Sudan has announcing an innovation challenge around food systems. Our team from NILE ORGANICS attended South Sudan Business EXPO for the first time, an event that brings together companies and experts on hand to display, connect, and exchange on themes of business-to-business linkages. Such an event, which is a matter of course in many other countries, would have been unimaginable in South Sudan just a few years ago. Here young creative entrepreneurs and startups can present themselves, their business models and their products and exchange their thoughts and experiences with other young entrepreneurs and potential partners. Such events are really motivating, this optimistic and positive spirit is exactly what our country needs. We saw today that a startup ecosystem and a community of young entrepreneurs are being built. Fortunately, some South Sudanese are returning from the diaspora to their home country to set up their own business here with fresh ideas, know-how and equity.
Plane Crash near our Farmland
On the morning of November 2, an Antonov 26 cargo plane, belonging to the local operator Optimum Aviation LTD, crashed over GONDOKORO. All five crew members, two Ukrainians, two Sudanese and one South Sudanese, were killed. The cargo plane was reportedly carrying 28 barrels of fuel for the World Food Programme to MABAN, a district housing more than 100,000 refugees. The plane hit the ground right on the edge of our farm. We are deeply affected but also grateful that none of our employees and no residents of the local community were injured. But property damage has occurred, some houses have been destroyed and the population is deeply shocked by the event. While the investigations and recovery work were ongoing on site, NILE ORGANICS offered to donate a memorial to remember the crash and the victims with dignity. Our thoughts are with the relatives of the deceased crew members.
SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
In order to create globally sustainable structures, the member states of the United Nations have set themselves 17 goals by 2030, which are set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: The UN Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs for short. One of the most important of these goals is SDG 2, which specifically means: end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. In the Republic of South Sudan in particular, food security is one of the main issues. Approximately 70-80% of the vegetables consumed by the residents of the capital JUBA are currently imported from foreign countries. NILE ORGANICS will replace some of these imports with local production. This makes the supply chain more stable and the local added value and economy is strengthened. As a result, more South Sudanese get jobs and more money stays in their homeland.
Plan and build a new Farm
After the decision of the management board of NILE ORGANICS and in coordination with our partners and the local authorities, the first areas of our new farm near GONDOKORO have been identified and the lease agreements have been signed. In the next steps the recruitment of local employees and the provision of equipment and tools will be prepared so that the bush clearing and cultivation of the fields can begin. In the medium term, our new farm at GONDOKORO is to be scaled to a size of 100 hectares. The farm infrastructure to be built will also include a powerful field irrigation system and a jetty for cargo boats. At a later date, the construction of drinking water wells, photovoltaic systems, greenhouses and a Farmer Business School (FBS) for the professional training of our own employees and also for the training of independent small-scale farmers from the region are planned. The local community of GONDOKORO should and will of course participate in these investments.
Meetings with local Communities
A group of managers and advisors from our Nile-Organics-Team visited the villages TOKIMAN, GONDOKORO and MANGALLA to talk about opportunities for cooperation and the development of farmland. In line with our bottom-up approach, our team always speaks to the local community first. Only if the local community is fundamentally behind our project ideas and development plans, we analyze the framework conditions for a possible engagement in detail. After interesting, personable and fruitful conversations with elders and landowners from all three villages - and of course with the consent of the responsible authorities - our team decided to start a scalable farm project near the beautiful village of GONDOKORO. In the next weeks and months NILE ORGANICS will build a new farm for the production of vegetables, herbs and salads on site near the banks of the Nile. In the near future our products will be supplied to the local markets and customers in the nearby capital JUBA.
Meetings with Investors & Government
The Nile-Organics-Team together with the head of ANYUAK, H.E. King Akwai Agada Akwai Cham, visit the capital Juba, present and explain new agricultural projects in Central Equatoria and in Greater Pibor Administrative Area. Very constructive and fruitful meetings took place among others with the Foreign Minister Amb. Beatrice Khamisa Wani, the Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, Ms. Lily Albino Akol Akol, the Country Director of the World Food Programme, Mr. Matthew Hollingworth, the Country Director of GIZ, Mr. Maik Schwarz and with the German Ambassador H.E. Manuel Müller. Our Nile-Organics-Team was accompanied by representatives of the German-Swiss Impact-Investor AREOS GROUP, who came from Europe especially for these conversations. For the future a close cooperation with UNMISS and WFP is planned.
Examination of potential Farmland
Our parent company Grainfield Enterprises LTD intends to grow and scale alongside our main investment in the POCHALLA region. In order to select further potential arable land, the NILE ORGANICS team visited various interesting locations directly on the banks of the Nile river near the capital JUBA during the last few days. Our team conducted interviews with landowners, village elders and the community of various villages. The bottom-up approach is always very important to us. That is why NILE ORGANICS always talks and negotiates with the local people first. Without the full support of the local community, no project will be sustainable or successful. At the moment we are looking for a suitable location to set up a vegetable production facility near the South Sudanese capital. Over the next few weeks we will decide on one of the possible options.