"There is now a future for my son."
We help small island farmers build financial stability to sustain family in rural villages, inspiring youth to carry on farming.
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.
Nora's Plantation Foods Limited
Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)
Annual budget in 2017 (USD)
Number of beneficiaries impacted so far
Headquarters location: Country
Headquarters location: City
Location(s) of impact
Samoa: Upolu island, Savai'i island.
Rural families are stuck in subsistence living due to lack of markets for their family grown crops. To solve the problem, Nora's launched a value-add facility to create a demand for local crops and employment. It provided an incentive to farm again, as seen by the revival of old cacao plantations; building optimism for the future. "There is now a future for my son" said one farmer. To sustain the assistance to villages, Nora's agribusiness makes these cocoa mass cubes for the export market.
Farmers talked about the tough existence of hard labor without a market to buy their crops, giving no incentive for the youth to work on the family farm. Since becoming a supplier to Nora's, there is relief at knowing that their hard work would be paid off, and sense of pride in having income to pay for basic needs such as food, water, electricity and school fees. Nora's value-add processing is a key factor in agriculture as a sustainable means for rural development now & for a better future.
Unemployment in rural villages in small islands is high, adding to the poverty problem. Nora's value-add facility offers employment to young people like Nive from Nofoali'i village, giving her skills in food packaging following international food safety standards. The strategy to expand from 10 to 20 full time workers for the cacao products helps provides futures for workers like Nive.
Tasks like winnowing seem simple but helps provide employment to an individual. While most Samoans grow up instinctively knowing how to hand-winnow roasted cacao beans, these young 'winnowers' still had to learn to preserve the natural shape of a Samoan Koko nib in a strict food safety environment, a key feature of Nora's nibs. They learnt that patience and skillful handling of this time-consuming activity was worth the effort to complete this artisan product.
Bean roasting skill is familiar to Samoans but given the opportunity for paid work gives our roaster pride for paid earnings. The traditional Samoan method of roasting koko beans is a pan over the open fire, a wooden home-made stirrer and family members gathering to share stories. Every family has their recipe of fermenting and roasting koko beans. It was a challenge to introduce new ideas at the beginning of the Pilot but credit to our workers, they soon accepted Nora's way of doing things.
As much as possible, Nora's employs women at its value-add facility. Most Samoans in the villages have good knowledge of beans, especially the women who are encouraged to express their views on improving bean quality.
Small islands like Samoa do not have the economy of scale to compete in the international commodity markets. Most cacao beans from Samoa are sold as commodity items by individual families, through ad-hoc sales that fluctuate with more often, losses. To solve those problems, Nora's broke the commodity price cycle by buying regularly from farmers at a consistent price for its value-adding. This gives the families a stable source of income, encouraging improved agricultural practices.
Part of neglecting farming in villages is the expensive fares to sell crops at the markets. Nora's Plantation Foods takes its market to village farmers by offering a koko-pickup service. Here, Nora's team member Tagaloa, is helping one of our cacao farmers at Leauva'a village select the right size pods for collection. This has prompted neighboring farmers to return to farming, increasing CSV in island villages.
Most rural farmers don't have vehicles to take their crops elsewhere for sale. Nora's solves the isolation issue by scheduling all fresh pod pick-ups in Upolu island by several days ahead, giving both farmer and Nora's confident of the sale. Savai'i farmers bring their dried beans to Nora's for weighing and assessment. They are paid the cost of the ferry fare from Savai'i, on top of their bean sale. Here, Nora's koko-picking team heading out to a cacao farm at Mulifanua village.
Farms with only the elderly and stay-at-home mums often lose out on earnings from their unpicked fruits. Since the Cacao Pilot, these families appreciate Nora’s team picking the cacao for them. The pods are counted and verified for payment by the farmer, giving transparency to both farmer and Nora’s team member. This is a successful process. A few farmers prefer to pick their own, and schedule Nora’s team to pick up the load. This pick-up is from one of the farmers at Malie village.
Without industry in rural areas, farming is the most obvious revenue-generating work for rural villages; but both cacao and taro farmers suffer lack-of-market issues and expensive transport costs, contributing to poverty. The Cacao pilot precedes the Taro program that offers the same model to taro farmers: 1.buy their taro (market to farmers) 2.and value-add (employment). Nora's agribusiness is helping to improve living conditions, and provide hope to young farmers in rural villages of Samoa.
Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?
This initiative addresses the issue of young people ceasing to farm due to current struggles of finding a market for crops from no local demand. They do not see a financial future on the farm, when there are no sales from their road-side stalls or at the town market.
Employment is non-existent in rural villages, adding to the poverty problem. Farming is the only option but without sales, families in rural villages remain in subsistence living and no future for their youth. https://borgenproject.org/poverty-in-samoa/
Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?
Nora's Plantation Foods' model of one initiative creating two outcomes, is the most promising aspect of CSV:
1. Nora's providing a consistent market to the farmers solves the lack-of-market issue
2. Nora's value-adding processing offers employment.
The initiative provides farmers a financial incentive to farm, encouraging youth to build on that primary asset through improved agriculture & agritech practices for better yields and production quality.
Nora's buys cacao regularly from farmers and pays them directly for each load. One farmer said, "There is now a future for my son.".
Our initiative can scale up to double the number of cacao farmers, impacting at least 150 families on both islands; & increasing employment by a further 10 full-time staff for value-adding.
The founders also work closely with farmer associations, government bodies and industry forums to ensure that Nora's agribusiness model is sustainable for the future of rural young farmers.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work
To date, 80 farmers from across 14 villages in Upolu island & 3 villages in Savai'i island have earned a combined USD 33.2k since Sept. 2015. Our social impact assessment revealed:
1. Farmers' revenue from Nora's is spent on basic needs: food, school fees, water and electricity bills.
2. Nora's local factory gives farmers confidence of a regular market.
3. Farmers are reviving plantations and planting new trees for future harvesting.
4. An increase of interests by farmer groups for Nora's to be involved in the future of farming.
5. Nora's employees are assessed on their Health, Safety & Environment performances. They follow strict Water and Waste management practices at processing. e.g. Cacao husks to mulching, plastics are disposed of accordingly. Nora's koko-picking team treat cacao branches with care to avoid damaging the trees. Weekly reports show improvement of practices since 2015.
Nora's plans to sponsor students in agriculture, agribusiness & environmental education.
Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?
This initiative has been 100% funded by the Founders and earned income. A small marketing budget earned the cacao Pilot USD70k. It is at the stage where it needs an injection of capital from Grants to expand:
1. Build a purpose-built production facility that is designed for growth.
2. Establish a firm marketing budget to add to its secured Japan market, and expand on its customer base in Australia.
The long term plan is to sustain the initiative through product sales beyond the CSV Prize. The export market is highly competitive and expensive to reach from small islands.
To reduce the risk to the model, Nora's will invest in 1)developing unique products to keep up with changing consumer tastes 2)a solid marketing budget to identify new markets and retain existing customers
Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?
Nora's Plantation Foods differs from the majority of agribusinesses in the market by:
1. Breaking the commodity Price cycle by offering a i)domestic market to farmers, ii)constant Price to farmers.
2. Not buying all harvests, adding to food security on the islands.
3. Profit-sharing without risks to farmers vs a Co-operative model.
4. Manufacturing unique products through direct employment.
5. Replicating the model to other crops to expand the impact to more farmers.
Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.
Our family landed in Samoa just after Cyclone Evan. We witnessed damages to Apia town area but most vividly were the resilience of families standing in the rain or take cover under make-shift shelters to sell their crops at the town market. The local news highlighted the glut of taro crops. We saw the same scene again and again with road-side stalls throughout villages from lack of buyers as most families grow their own. Families in rural areas have stable foods but lacked cash to add variety to meals, pay for basic needs and medicines. Farming was the main income earner. We looked for locally-made snacks but little was available. With plenty of fresh crops, I saw an opportunity to use commercial activities to improve lives. The cacao Pilot is proof that Nora’s Plantation Foods is an apt solution to make farming a viable income earner for rural families & their youth of tomorrow.
Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?