During the 5 year period of 2005 to 2010 the Dutch Farmer received, on average, the following prices for:
onions: $ 0,12 per kg, potatoes: $ 0,13 per kg and carrots: $ 0,12 per kg.
These prices include 5 months of storage and delivery.
Question: Can you compete with these prices?
This page, with the collaboration of a group of Dutch, South African and US companies, will take you through the harvest and post-harvest process, step by step, to show you how to improve your crop handling and processing from the field to the final consumer. All the companies involved operate internationally and are owned by farmers or ex-farmers, so our group understands very well what a crop means to a grower. We invite any company that thinks it can add value to this page to contact us.
Our major challenge is to give the producer enough information to start analyzing their actual way of treating their crop from the harvest till its final destination (be it; the local market, a supermarket or an export opportunity).
We think it is a shame that when a crop reaches the consumer, less than 25% of its value, this percentage is decreasing year by year, will have reached its producer. Our mission is to help to invert this yearly trend.
How ? 1) Give you ideas. 2) Assist you to develop your project. 3) Bring the expertise to your project by involving the relevant companies. 4) Once your project is developed, the companies will supply you with quotations. 5) Assist you by implementing your project with very professional and experienced technicians. 6) Very important; train you and your people operating the equipment or installation. 7) Last but not least, maintain an on-going relationship for possible technical assistance and future developments.
Hover Please hover me also your mouse over the colored stripes here below, for the essence of this page.
The 4 principle objectives of a successful harvest are:
- Harvest at the correct moment.
- Get the harvest as quickly as possible from the field.
- Avoid physical damage to the product.
- Harvest at minimum cost and time.
Taking these 4 objectives into account we will discuss the following themes:
- How do we determine the adequate moment of the harvest, taking into account the final destination of the produce.
- An exhaustive comparison between a manual harvest, partially mechanized harvest and a completely mechanized harvest , always having in mind the final destination of the product.
When considering mechanizing the harvest the following should be considered: If the whole process from the harvest till the final sale of the product is done manually, mechanizing the harvest is probably not the right start.
A mechanized onion or potato harvest will generate a product flow of about 20 to 30 tons of product per hour. And if there is no infrastructure to receive these 20 to 30 tons per hour of product, like for instance a storage facility or mechanized packaging installation; the problem is how to handle this product flow.
But, harvesting onions for storage or harvesting potatoes for storage should be done mechanized. The reason: mechanized harvesting goes much faster and there for the harvest will arrive in a homogeneous condition at the storage installation.
In this chapter we only analyze the transport from the field to the installations for possible storage and handling. The way of transporting the crop from the field is determined by the following: storage or no storage, what kind of storage system will be used and what is the product's final destination.
For instance, the transport of a product that goes into bulk storage is different from transporting a product that will be stored in boxes (bins), or not stored at all on the premises.
We will have a look at the most basic systems and the most sophisticated (completely automated and computerized) installations.
The question is: To Store or Not to Store the crop?
The decision to store or not to store is probably one of the most difficult decisions for the grower because of the relatively large investment.
But if the market requires it and the product is fit to store this investment can be very profitable by putting the producer in a much ber position to negotiate the sales price and makes him less dependant on his regular customers.
With adequate storage the farmer is going to be in a position where he can choose his clients.
In this central chapter storage is analyzed with regard to the question:
"To store or not to store?"
- When is an onion or potato fit for storage? ?
- What are the major risks of storing a product that is not fit for storage?
- How to store a product, taking into account its final destination!
(For instance the storage conditions to store potatoes for chips are completely different to the storage conditions for seed potatoes.) ?
- The different storage systems that are available today.
- How do these installations function?
- And much more...
From now on we are going to "ADD VALUE" to the harvest.
An onion stem cut at the market length, well graded onions or potatoes and well cleaned potatoes are all examples of "ADDED VALUE" opportunities for the harvest!
Why give away for free all these "Added Values" to the rest of the distribution chain?
The farmer, who works and invests more than anybody else in the production of onions and potatoes is in the perfect position to add all these "Added Values" to the product and reap the benefits of these "Added Value Opportunities!". We will show you a variety of installations to add value to the harvest.
Another way to add value to the harvest is process the product into a completely different product. During the last 15 years all the statistics show clearly that the business of the industrialized processed potato and onion grew at a healthy rate of 15 and more percent while the business of fresh produce hardly grew at all.
So why not consider, for instance, the very simple process of cutting onions and packing them in vacuum sealed plastic bags (the price of the onion will at least triple per kg).
Or consider processing the potatoes into:
- Potato starch
- Pre-fried frozen French fries
- Or a simple small chip line for the local market.
Another important added value for the producer can be:
Weighing and packaging his crop!
More and more, the grocery stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets sell their onions, potatoes, carrots or other vegetables packed in bags of between 2 to 5 kg. The packaging can be very simple, (like a netted bag with or without a small label), to very elaborate packaging with the store logo printed on it, even including the bar-code to facilitate better store administration. The stores prefer to work with packaging because:
- There is no need the weigh, package and price the product the moment the consumer buys the product.
- The store's shelves look much better, more organized.
- It enables the store to create a private label, selling, in realty, the same product only with a more attractive image for a premium price.
- The handling of the product inside the store's facility is much easier than handling onions and potatoes in bulk.
Why should a farmer not deliver this service to the local stores and add more value to his own product?
- A deeper look at the extreme low price of onions, potatoes and other produce in the Netherlands where labour costs exceed € 15 per hour, diesel is € 1.50 per liter, fertilizers and seeds are 10 to 15% higher than in most other parts of the world, and land prices are exceedingly high (due to dense populations). How do they manage this? We will benchmark cost/pricing versus proposed investment.
- An exchange rate calculator to calculate pricing in foreign currencies.
- A tool to calculate the financial differences between mechanized harvesting and storing as opposed to manual harvesting and selling the product directly from the field to the market.
- A tool to rotate crop in the correct way. Correct crop rotation is one of the most important weapons against plagues, fungi and land depletion and a tool to minimize fertilizing and optimizing crop yield.
- Other potential projects will be discussed here.
- And anything of interest in agriculture that comes our way in the future.