A delicious solution to post-harvest losses

Posted on 01 April 2021.

Founded in 2016 to help Jamaican women add value to surplus tropical fruit, Agricycle markets natural, dried, ethical, organic fruit... and it's delicious too!

An ethical, 100% organic all-natural snack

One of the main problems facing farmers is losing some of their crop before it even reaches the consumer. These food losses may happen at harvest time, if for example poor handling causes physical injury to fruit and vegetables. But under poor storage conditions it can also happen during storage and transportation.

Failing the use of good practices and appropriate technologies, fresh produce can spoil before it gets to market. The problem of post-harvest losses is particularly serious in developing countries where rural communities may be extremely poor and not have access to food preservation techniques.     

 

Modernized solar dryers

Operating in six countries in Africa and the Caribbean, Agricycle is developing solutions to prevent this huge waste by saving tropical fruit from the dumpster and so improve rural families’ livelihoods. The company was originally founded in 2016 by an engineering school student, Josh Shefner, in Milwaukee, USA, under the name Blue Mangoes.

The original idea was to develop technology that would not only allow Jamaican women to dry surplus fruit - a great way to preserve it – but would also adapt to the economic and cultural realities these women face.

The Agricycle team decided to upgrade the solar dryer concept, a process that allows fruit to be dried without electricity by capturing the sun's rays and heating the air inside the unit. The hot air then rises up to the fruit on a series of trays and removes all the moisture. The dryers are custom-designed so they can be assembled from locally available materials. Agricycle employees also provide on-site training for future users.

 

From tree to plate

Although initially Josh Shefner only planned to supply the solar dehydrator itself, the question of how and to whom to sell the dried fruit soon arose. He decided to turn it into a product, called "Jali Fruit Co", aimed at the western market: an ethical, 100% organic all-natural snack, "better for people and for the planet".

In the process, Agricycle has created a global network of more than 35,000 farmers and dozens of women's cooperatives in six countries in East Africa, West Africa and Latin America.

The company also introduces consumers to the story behind the dried fruit they are eating. Each bag has a "Find My Farm" QR code, which can be scanned on the brand's website to trace the fruit's journey - from the tree where it was picked to the store where it was sold - and meet the farmers who grew it and the women who prepared it.