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February 3 2018

From the desk of Fahad Awadh

I recently had the pleasure of speaking at Startup Grind Dar Es Salaam. Startup Grind is a global startup community designed to educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs. They are in 300 cities in the world including Dar es Salaam.

It was a great experience and I had a chance to engage with many young entrepreneurs. We discussed the opportunities that are available in Agriculture and Value Addition. The audience had great energy and the questions were very engaging. I was able to share many insights from my start up journey, which I hope will help many of the young people as they build their business. It was great to see the entrepreneurial spirit and to hear from young people on the challenges they are facing. It is our responsibility to make things better. I believe the future of our continent is in our young people.

February 3 2018

From the desk of Fahad Awadh

At YYTZ we believe in empowering rural farmers to succeed, by providing them with knowledge and an opportunity to create value, we can transform the rural community. In August 2017, we took a few farmers from Singida for cashew training at the Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute. In November, we supported those farmers to establish a cashew nursery to distribute cashew seedlings to farmers in the community. The Cashewnut Board of Tanzania provided us with the hybrid seeds from NARI. The government has a plan to plant 10 million new trees each year for the next 3 years. After distributing the seedlings to farmers, the government pays the nursery 350tshs per seedling. This venture is an income generating activity for the farmers. In the past two weeks our farmer nursery distributed 35,000 seedlings to farmers for planting in their fields.

Teach farmers how to fish and provide them with the skills to succeed.

February 3 2018

From the desk of Fahad Awadh

It is a tremendous honor to have been recently nominated for African Leadership Award’s ‘Young Person of the Year’. I believe that young people are the future of our great continent; we will be the ones to change it for the better. As I continue on this journey it is my passion to engage with young people and share from my experiences and to create a supportive environment.

‘The future belongs to those who prepare for it today’ – Malcolm X

December 12 2017

From the desk of Fahad Awadh

I recently had the pleasure of participating in Africa 2017: Business for Africa and the World, held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. The forum was held under the patronage of H.E. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, it included participation of other Heads of State and business leaders from all over Africa. The sessions were very informative and provided great insights into the great opportunities that Africa has to offer going forward.

The highlight of the event was the Young Entrepreneurs Day, which included a keynote speech by Tony Elumelu, a business tycoon and philanthropist. He provided great lessons from his own journey to the aspiring young entrepreneurs in the room. Some of the key lessons I gained from his talk were the need for discipline, hard work and a diligent focus on long term. He also highlighted the importance of instilling excellence in your business; quality must be the top priority for any young entrepreneur. He emphasized the need for young entrepreneurs to have an unquenchable ambition and fire inside of them. He explained the importance of fiscal discipline, saving your earnings to fund the growth of your business.

The Young Entrepreneurs Day also featured a presidential panel with H.E. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of Egypt and H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda. President Kagame shared some great insights into the success of Rwanda; investing in youth and driving entrepreneurship. In his own words, ‘Young People are a sure bet,’ a powerful statement from one of the great leaders in Africa.

Photos: (Top to Bottom) 1. Presidential Panel featuring H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, H.E. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of Egypt, Tony Elumelu, Business Tycoon and Philanthropist, 2. Fahad Awadh with Tony Elumelu

December 12 2017

From the desk of Fahad Awadh

While in Australia, I took the opportunity to learn more about the dynamic Macadamia industry. I travelled to Lismore in New South Wales to meet Jolyon Burnett, CEO of the Australian Macadamia Society. Australia is the world’s largest producer of Macadamias. Northern Rivers, the area we visited, is the 2nd largest macadamia growing region in Australia.

It was great to meet farmers and to visit Macadamia Direct; one of the biggest macadamia processors in the country. The macadamia industry is currently at an all-time high with increasing demand coming from China; accounting for 35% of exports and the largest importer of Australian macadamias.

Most farmers in Australia outsource pest control and agronomy services to specialized companies called ‘Bug Spotters.’ These companies are contracted by farmers to conduct field visits and diagnose the occurrence of pests and diseases on the trees. They in turn recommend when spraying is to be completed, which is also done by specialized service providers. This practice ensures the best management of the orchard and a proactive approach to prevent the spread of pests and disease. The Australia Macadamia Society also routinely carries out benchmarking studies amongst its member-farmers to discover the best practices of the best performing farmers. They found that the best producers are those that are able to prevent the root exposure and topsoil erosion, which is common with macadamia trees as the roots are close to the surface.

As we continue on our journey to building an inclusive cashew value chain, we are always looking at innovative ways to provide value added services to our rural farmers.

The same evening I was invited to Macadamia Direct’s annual Christmas party for their farmers. This was a party where all the farmers that supply Macadamia Direct were gathered and shown appreciation for the work they are doing and their supply of macadamias. Macadamia Direct supports its farmers by providing agronomy services and field visits and maintaining a good relationship with its farmers.

It is my goal to build a strong cashew value chain like the one I saw in Australia, where farmers are at the center and are supported and appreciated. By creating value through the cashew value chain we will transform the lives of rural cashew farmers. We are in the business of creating value and making sure that we are transforming the lives of rural farmers.

Photos: (top to bottom) 1. L to R: Jolyon Burnett, CEO of Australian Macadamia Society, Fahad Awadh, Jon Perrin, GM of Macadamia Direct, 2. Macadamia farm, with 25 year old trees, 3. Pecan farm with 12 year old trees, 4. Pecan farm with 3 year old trees

December 12 2017

From the desk of Fahad Awadh

It was a privilege to be invited as a speaker at the International Tropical Agriculture 2017 Conference in Brisbane, Australia. I was able to share insights on ‘Enhancing Youth Economic Participation and Entrepreneurship in Agriculture.’

It was great learning about smallholder participation in global value chains. In the example of rubber, smallholders account for 85% of global production. Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and India account for 83% of global rubber production. Extension services in these countries include some form of inputs supply, agronomy services, planting material and field visits. The provision of extension services is financed through export levies. It is great to take lessons from strong value chains that link smallholder farmers to global value chains.

It was also great learning about the innovative work being done by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. It was very interesting to see the progress in Variable rate technology. Varying the amount of fertilizer or water applied within a field can be adjusted to match soil and crop requirements and improve crop uniformity. A range of technologies can be used to assess spatial variability including satellite, UAVs and tractor-mounted crop sensing imagery. Ground truthing is then used to confirm the likely cause of variability and identify potential management options.

Sensors and cameras mounted on Drones are the new frontier in precision agriculture. Compared to traditional data capture, the use of UAVs allows large areas to be photographed or filmed quickly, reducing the need for field staff to traverse these areas in difficult conditions. Large field surveys can be done within an hour where it once would take the best part of a day. Drones are useful for:
  • Detecting water stress in crops
  • Mapping of an orchard
  • Flower counting
  • Fruit mapping
  • Improving the efficiency of breeding programs for sorghum varieties by detecting key variables such as head number, plant population and water or nitrogen stress remotely
  • Detecting or quantifying the scale of pest and disease outbreaks in fields
  • Weed detection and surveillance
  • Creation of informative videos to communicate key concepts and ideas within rural industries

It will be interesting to see how these technologies can be used to support rural smallholder farmers in Africa.

Photos: (L to R) Dominic Smith, Speaker from University of Queensland, Fahad Awadh and Ammar Abdul Aziz, Lecturer at University of Queensland

December 12 2017

From the desk of Fahad Awadh

It was a privilege to be invited by the African Union Commission to participate to the 9th AU Private Sector Forum on “Accelerating Africa’s Industrialization through Digitalization and Youth Techpreneurship” in Pretoria 13-15 November 2017.

It was great to be able to share insights on the use of technology in Agriculture and the potential of technology in providing value added services to rural smallholder farmers. The use of technology in the value chain will enable us to monitor farmers’ performance. With information on the location, number of trees of each farmer, the yield; we can supply the required quantity of inputs, mapping of farms and benchmarking to provide insights from the best performing farmers. We would like to utilize technology to provide rural farmers with the tools that will enable them to be successful and lead to improving their livelihoods. We are on a journey to build an inclusive cashew value chain that brings value to the rural farmer.

October 6 2017

From the desk of Fahad Awadh

Last week, after arriving from Amsterdam, I was invited to participate in the ‘Scale Tanzania Forum: Youth Entrepreneurship for Social Impact’ being held in Dar Es Salaam. The event was implemented jointly by Aga Khan University and the Aga Khan Foundation. It featured young entrepreneurs, a panel discussion addressing the opportunities and barriers to economic inclusion and key stakeholders from the public sector. The aim of the Scale Forum is to support an enabling environment for youth entrepreneurship in East Africa. The first Scale forum was held in Kampala, with the next Scale forums being held in Nairobi and Kigali. Here is a link to a video to learn more about the Scale Forum.

The event was held at Buni Innovation Hub. I had a chance to engage with young, bright Tanzanians who are developing innovative businesses. It was great sharing insights and seeing a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit in these young people. It is very inspiring to see that there is immense talent that can be utilized to build our great nation. These are the young people that see opportunity in the challenges and are seizing that opportunity to come up with innovative businesses.

The future is bright.

October 6 2017

Last week, Fahad Awadh had a chance to visit our clients in Netherlands. They had a chance to discuss the current market trends as we are preparing for the cashew nut harvest in Tanzania. These discussions are very insightful as cashews are a globally traded product; 60% of global production coming from Africa and processing is concentrated in India and Vietnam. It is always great to know your customer and understand their challenges, successes and long-term vision. As we continue on this journey we are building relationships that will last many years.

October 6 2017

From the desk of Fahad Awadh

I was recently invited to speak at an African Union – United Nations dialogue on the periphery of the 72nd UN General Assembly. I was tasked to share insights on ‘Fast-tracking Youth Entrepreneurial Development in Africa.’ This is a topic that I am very passionate about. We are approaching a changing of guard in Africa; 60% of the population is under the age of 25. These young people are our greatest resource, as they are the ones who will come up with solutions to the challenges we face as a continent.

By sharing insights and actionable take-a-ways, we can take steps to create a supportive environment for young entrepreneurs. As young people we have a responsibility to shape the future of our great nations.

Photos: 1,2: Fahad Awadh speaking, 3: Fahad Awadh, fellow young entrepreneur Lucia Wamala, Ismail and Ayodele from UNDP with former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, 4: Holding hands in unity, 5,6: Ms. Amina Mohamed, Deputy Secretary General of the UN, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of African Union Commission, H.E. Alpha Condé, President of Guinea and the Chairperson of the African Union

September 14 2017

We had a chance to visit a farm in Ruangwa, Lindi, we met a farmer who has been growing cashews since the early 1980’s. His cashew trees now yield 150kg each, every year. He told me that last year he earned 45,000,000Tzs ($20,000) from his cashew farm. This is the kind of income that can have a huge impact on transforming the livelihood of a rural farmer.

The cashew tree is a perennial crop that can create wealth for rural farmers in Tanzania. The farmers we are working with in Singida region are drawn to cashew because of its longevity. They are aware that by planting cashew trees today they are laying down roots for creation of wealth for the future generations. With the right support, market linkage and value addition we can create jobs, increase income and grow our rural and national economies. It is important that we encourage youth in rural Tanzania to participate in agriculture and to make this initiative one that is market driven. An astonishing 45% of Tanzania's population is under the age of 15. Each year 800,000 young people enter a job market that is only generating 50-60,000 new jobs. We need to look at agriculture and entrepreneurship as a means of creating value for young people and future generations.

The future is bright.

September 14 2017

Following the cashew farmer training in Mtwara, Fahad and the farmers from Singida then travelled back to Singida to meet the larger farming community. This meeting also included Mr. Thomas Nyanba the Registrar for AMCOS in Singida Region, Mr. Somboi Advance, Cashew Subject Matter Specialist for Singida Region. This meeting would serve to answer all questions from farmers regarding the distribution of cashew seedlings. It was also to inform the farmers of the Cashew Farmer Training attended by their counterparts. These farmers would be a resource for the community and would transfer the knowledge through hands-on demonstrations in the field.

The first meeting was held in the village of Ipalalyu, which is 26 km from Mitundu village. This village has a population of approximately 6,300; it also covers a very large area of land. This was the first meeting for many farmers and they expressed tremendous interest in growing cashews. They also suggested for us to establish a model farm for them to be able to use as a reference for training and best practices. All 60 farmers that attended the meeting also registered to participate in the cashew program.

The second meeting was held in Mitundu village. As this was the second meeting being held in Mitundu, there were many farmers that had already registered. Over 250 farmers attended the meeting. We received 154 new registrations at this meeting, with additional forms taken to those who weren’t able to attend. The farmers were able to have all their questions answered by the regional government officers, with regards to the availability and distribution of seedlings. They are very eager to begin planting their cashews this year. They are very happy to know that we are working with them and that we plan to build a Cashew Farmer Processing Centre for them to add value to their own crop.

By registering farmers and gathering their information, we are able to provide the regional government and the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania with a precise number of seedlings that are required. The government will distribute 10 million seedlings every year for the next three years. By organizing the farmers in this area, we are able to provide a registry that include the farmers name, telephone number, size of farm, and required seedlings. The regional government was very happy with our initiative and the organization of the data. This farmer registry will allow us to also track each farmer and their number of trees, we will also be able to provide support to farmers in the form of Agronomy tips via SMS. We will record each time a farmer attends training; we are able to follow-up on the maintenance of their trees and provide additional support on a needs basis. It gives us information to organize the distribution of inputs; it will give us a powerful platform to build-on and to ensure that farmers are getting the support that they need.

It is important that we work together to ensure that the farmer is able to benefit from the cashew program and ensure that they receive the support to develop their farms. The next step is the preparation of the land and distribution of the seedlings for planting in the field. With the right knowledge and support these farmers will be able to improve their livelihoods.

Photos: (1-4) First meeting at Ipalalyu Village, Photos from meeting at Mitundu Village

September 14 2017

During this trip to Mtwara, we had organized with the Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute for 3 farmers from Singida to participate in a cashew farmer training. These farmers are among those we met in Mitundu when we held our first meeting to engage with farmers in that area. Based on the need for know-how on cashew farming, we have been working with NARI to avail a training program for a few farmers. These farmers would be able to then pass on this knowledge to the wider farming community in Mitundu. The training was very hands-on and interactive, it allowed for the farmers to really gain practical experience. They learned about quality cashew seeds, how to plant the seeds, building a cashew nursery, taking care of seedlings, planting seedlings, grafting scions to the rootstock, cashew tree management, disease control and prevention, pests that affect cashew trees, applying fungicides and pesticides and how to prepare the land and laying out your new cashew farm. Our founder, Fahad Awadh, also participated in this training with the farmers and was able to gain valuable knowledge.

Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute is home to one the best cashew research programs in the world. It is because of their hard work that Tanzanian cashews are consistently praised for their quality. Tanzania is the first African country to release commercial cashew varieties and high quality seeds that allow farmers to consistently produce high quality cashews. The researchers at Naliendele play a key role in advancing the cashew industry in Tanzania. We are privileged to be able to collaborate with them as we continue our journey to develop the cashew value chain.

We are very thankful to Dr. Mponda and the entire team at the Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute. We would like to thank Mr. Kapinga, Mr. Bashiru, Mr. Fikiri, Mr. Mgimiloko and Mr. Bashiru for all of their excellent lessons.

Photos: (1-4) Cashew Nursery, Demonstration of Spraying the cashew tree, Samples of cashew disease and approved fungicides and pesticides, Pests that affect cashew tree. (5-6) Demonstration of how to plant the seedling in the farm, At a young cashew farm showing how to take care of the seedling in the field. (7) Cashew Farmer Training Certificate for Fahad Awadh

September 14 2017

Towards the end of August, our founder, Fahad Awadh had a chance to visit two women’s processing groups in Mtwara. The first group is called Jipange Cashewnuts Group; they are located in Mtwara city. It consists of 38 women members who have organized themselves and are processing cashews to sell in the city. Speaking to Amina, one of the members of the group, she has been processing cashews for the past 15 years. She says that the biggest challenge for small processors like herself, is access to a reliable market. We are planning to work with this women’s group to supply us with semi-processed cashew kernels. With a reliable market these groups will be able to earn additional income on a consistent basis. They are also confident that there will be a crowding-in effect as a result of our business together; many other small processors will want to participate and supply their cashews.

The second group we met in Mtwara is called Mama Vitu Super Cashew Nut. This is one of 3 women’s groups that are based out of the SIDO (Small Industries Development Organization) complex in Mtwara. This particular group has been supported by UNIDO; they have been supplied with shelling tables, peeling tables, boiler for steaming and a dryer. UNIDO has also built a warehouse for storage of their raw materials. This is a well-equipped group that has received great support and is ready to produce but has experienced challenges. The group leader, Mrs. Mwajuma Issa, expressed to us that their biggest challenge is a reliable market and working capital for procurement of their raw materials. They are confident that with the right market they will be able to consistently supply high quality cashews throughout the season. We are planning to work with this cluster of groups for supply of semi-processed cashews.

It is our goal that by providing a reliable market and financial support through a financial institution these groups will be able to prosper and grow their businesses. By empowering small women processors we will be able to work towards an inclusive cashew value chain in Tanzania.

Photos: (1-3) Fahad with Mama Amina and colleague, woman manually shelling cashews at home, raw cashews. (4-7) Mama-Vitu Super Cashew nut group at Sido Complex

July 29 2017

A week ago our founder, Fahad Awadh travelled to Taiwan and Korea to visit equipment manufacturers and suppliers. Fahad had a chance to test a roasting production line from a company based in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. This particular production line is used to add value to products like cashews and peanuts by roasting and seasoning. Taiwan is well known for its high-quality manufacturing sector. This particular company has more than 50 years experience in manufacturing of food processing equipment. Taiwan is also home to Apple’s largest iPhone subcontractor, Hon Hai Precision Industry also known as Foxconn Technology Group. The country has excellent infrastructure; a high-speed rail reduces travel time between cities.

Fahad also had a chance to visit a packaging equipment manufacturer in Taichung, Taiwan. This company specializes in cup filling and sealing machines. In addition they also manufacture pouch-filling equipment for nuts and snacks.

In Seoul, South Korea, Fahad had a chance to visit a packaging materials manufacturer and other factories that make up the packaging value chain. This company in South Korea is a supplier of packaging materials to blue chip companies such as Starbucks and Wal-Mart. With a HACCP, ISO-22000 certified production facility they produce the highest quality packaging materials for both domestic and export markets. Their facility houses a 10 color gravure film printing production line; including embossing, lamination, gluing, slitting, pouch making and die cutting. Seoul has a vibrant packaging industry with all the raw materials being produced locally. The packaging materials are FDA approved food grade materials. Fahad had a chance to visit other facilities that produce the film used in the manufacture of the packaging as well as the gravure cylinder production. He also had a chance to visit other packaging equipment manufacturers; Seoul has a vibrant manufacturing industry. With many of these manufacturers having the equipment to machine stainless steel components on-site.

At YYTZ we practice the principle of Genchi Genbutsu; learned from Toyota Motor Corporation, which means going to source and understanding for your-self. By visiting our suppliers’ facilities and understanding the value chain in which they operate in, we are able to understand the quality of the production process. This leads to an understanding of the quality parameters that are employed to ensure the finished product is of the highest quality.

Below we will showcase the plastic packaging value chain. We will start with photos of the printing and finishing facility. We will show you photos of the film making process, which provides the film to the printing and finishing facility. We will also show you the process of producing the cylinders that are used to transfer the ink to the film as per the design. As we mentioned that the production line can print 10-colors per label, each color will have its own cylinder. In order to have a vibrant packaging industry it is necessary to have companies serving each segment of the value chain, this enables a company to have access to the necessary raw materials. There is a synergy that is formed between all actors in the value chain, as a result the customer benefits from a high quality product and shortened lead times.

Photos 1-4 (clockwise): welcome sign, film is printed on these large 10-color printing lines, the next stage is lamination where film is laminated to aluminum foil and other u/v or matte gloss is applied, film is completed in rolls with two pouches per line (front and back).

Photos 5-8 (clockwise): printed labels are ready for die-cutting, cut labels are stacked and prepared for in-mold label application, pouches are being folded, glued and cut.

Gravure Cylinder Production

In Gravure printing, the first step is to create the cylinder with the engraved images that need to be printed: the engraving process will create on the cylinder surface the cells that will contain the ink in order to transfer it to the paper. Since the amount of ink contained in the cells corresponds to different color intensities on the paper, the dimensions of the cells must be carefully set: deeper or larger cells will produce more intense colors whereas smaller cells will produce less intense ones.

The Gravure cylinders are made of steel and plated with copper, though other materials, e.g. ceramics can also be used. The desired pattern is achieved by engraving a diamond tool. Following engraving, the cylinder is proofed and tested, reworked if necessary, and then chrome plated. The process takes two days to complete one cylinder.

Photos 1-4 (clockwise): steel cylinders are ready for copper plating, cylinders have been copper plated, grinding is performed 3 times on the copper plated cylinders, cylinder is now ready for diamond engraving.

Photos 5-8 (clockwise): copper plated cylinders are placed in the diamond-engraving machine where the artwork is engraved onto the cylinder, cylinders are plated with chrome and grinding is performed to provide a smooth surface, cylinder is ready for proofing with ink.

Photos 9-12 (clockwise): cylinders are placed in a gravure printing press to test the colors and ensure the ink as applied as per design, a proof for a Dorito’s chips design, cylinders are prepared for shipment to printing facilities.

Polyethylene Film Production

Blown film extrusion is a technology that is the most common method to make plastic films, especially for the packaging industry. The process involves extruding a tube of molten polymer through a die and inflating to several times its initial diameter to form a thin film bubble. This bubble is then collapsed and used as a lay-flat film or can be made into bags. Usually polyethylene is used with this process, and other materials can be used as blends with these polymers.

Photos 1-4 (clockwise): film production facility, polyethylene pellets are melted and air is blown to form a thin film bubble, the bubble is pulled continually upwards from the die and a cooling ring blows air onto the film, this reduces the temperature inside the bubble, while maintaining the bubble diameter, the film is finally passed through nip rollers to wind up rollers.

Fahad had an excellent trip and was able to experience the vibrant Korean industrial sector, where entrepreneurship is thriving. He ended the day with a Japanese sushi dinner with his hosts. While discussing the future co-operation between our two companies, they shared that Mount Kilimanjaro is very famous in Korea. ‘The Leopard of Mt. Kilimanjaro’ is a very famous Korean song; they were very excited to learn that we are based in the land of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Photo: Fahad Awadh having a Japanese sushi dinner with his gracious Korean hosts.

July 13 2017

Our founder Fahad Awadh recently attended and completed an intensive HACCP Food Safety Management System training held by SGS in Dar Es Salaam. As a company we have invested in creating a clean environment that exceeds international food safety standards. As we begin our operations later this year, we are going to implement the HACCP Food Safety Management System in our organization. We are working with SGS to also complete our certification after commencing our operations. The training was excellent and Fahad has gained a comprehensive understanding of the HACCP Food Safety Management System and how to implement such a system in our organization. We are building a food safety culture within our organization from the ground up.

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points; it is a management tool used to protect the food supply against biological, chemical and/or physical hazards. It is a preventive program based on principles accepted throughout the world. It is the foundation for Global Food Safety Initiatives and ISO 22000 Management System.

The Origins of HACCP

HACCP was pioneered in the 1960’s. It was first used on foods for the NASA Gemini space program, as you can imagine it is very difficult to deal with food poisoning in space. NASA used their Failure Mode Effect Analysis tool to develop a food safety system, which entails asking ‘how can it fail?’ and then preventing it from happening. This is the same thinking tool used by NASA when building a space ship. The program was developed by NASA, Military Laboratories and Pillsbury, General Mills; its two food suppliers.

The increasingly global nature of food trade led the WHO/FAO to join efforts to develop food standards. They created the Codex Alimentarius Commission to be the body responsible for implementing the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. As the Codex didn’t have a management system the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed a management system based on their ISO 9001 Quality Management System. ISO 22000:2005 is the management system for food safety based on the Codex HACCP Principles. The Codex HACCP Principles are now the backbone of any food safety management system.

Photos: (1) Class photo with other training participants and SGS trainer, (2) In-class session learning about Pre-Requisite Programs, (3) Copy of Training Certificate from SGS

June 26 2017

This past week, Fahad Awadh was invited to the SIMLESA Regional Conference on “Taking Stock on Sustainable Research for Impact in East and Southern Africa: Implications and Strategies for the Future” held in Arusha. He was tasked with giving an inspirational dinner speech on “Enhancing Youth Economic Participation and Entrepreneurship in Agriculture.” As a young entrepreneur, he presented actionable ideas that resonated well with the audience, which included Prof. Andrew Campbell; CEO of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Prof. Martin Kropff; Director General of CIMMYT, Dr. John Dixon; ACIAR Principal Advisor and Research Program Manager, Dr. Eric Craswell; Chair of SIMLESA’s Program Steering Committee, Dr. Mulugetta Mekuria; SIMLESA Project Leader, Dr. Hussein Mansoor; Director of Agricultural Research and Development (Tanzania) and Heads of the National Agricultural Resarch Systems for Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Rwanda and Botswana.

The conference was officiated by the Hon. Minister of Agriculture of Tanzania, Eng. Dr. Charles Tizeba. He had an opportunity to share insights on the potential of the cashew nut industry with the Hon. Minister, who was very receptive to the ideas of a young entrepreneur.


The Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) program, now in its second phase, was launched in 2010 and is working to improve maize and legume productivity by 30 percent and to reduce the expected downside yield risk by 30 percent for approximately 650,000 farm households by 2023.

SIMLESA focuses primarily on improving maize-legume cropping systems in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania by encouraging the adoption of sustainable agriculture systems through modern agronomy, conservation agriculture practices such as crop residue and retention, the use of crop rotation to simultaneously maintain and boost yields, increase profits and protect the environment. The program had over 20 research sites in the five focus countries as well as spillover countries of Botswana, Rwanda and Uganda.

Funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the program will run through 2018 with an increased focus on up-scaling sustainable intensification technologies which were initiated and tested in its first phase (2010-2014). Click here to learn more.

Field Day in Arusha

As a part of the conference, there was a field day where we had a chance to see the full maize value chain from seed production to maize milling. We also visited a farmers group in Losikoto, in Aru Meru. These farmers are some of the beneficiaries of the SIMLESA project. They have implemented conservation agriculture practices; correct spacing, use of herbicides and fertilizers, and no tilling of the soil. This combined with the use of certified seeds has resulted in a yield increase. A challenge they have faced is theft of their maize from neighbors that haven’t bought into the conservation agriculture program. Seeing-is-believing for many farmers, which has led to a multiplier effect as many farmers in the community are adopting conservation agriculture practices on their farms.

Conference photos: (1)Fahad Awadh speaking with Hon. Minister of Agriculture, Eng. Dr. Charles Tizeba and Dr. Hussein Mansoor, Director of Agricultural Research and Development (2) Fahad Awadh speaking with Hon. Minister of Agriculture, Eng. Dr. Charles Tizeba, (3) SIMLESA Regional Conference Group Photo

Field photos: (1), (2) Suba-Agro, seed producer using CIMMYT maize parent stock for multiplication. (3) Agricultural Seeds Agency, government agency producing pigeon pea seeds-8 hectares planted for pigeon pea seed production (4) Agricultural Seeds Agency factory for production of pigeon pea seeds. (5), (6) Demo field planted with CIMMYT maize variety TZH-538 as part of the SIMLESA project. (7) Fitarell Mistari 2, 2-row planter from Brazil being distributed by FACASI, (8) Maize Sheller, 3MT per hour capacity being distributed by FACASI. (9), (10), (11), (12) Farmers Group in Losikito, Aru Meru region. (13), (14), (15), (16) MONABAN, Maize Milling company based in Arusha, which buys the maize from the farmers for further value addition into maize flour.

June 26 2017

The week of June 12-16th, the YYTZ team visited the Mtwara and Lindi regions to meet with cashew farmers, a women’s processing group, the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania and the Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute.

Our first stop was the women’s processing group in Ruangwa, Lindi Region. This group consists of 323 members, which is divided into 25 groups within the Ruangwa district. As part of our cashew program we work with micro-processors to assist them with capacity building and market linkage. These groups are able to participate in the value chain by performing shelling activities and supplying our company with semi-processed cashews. We came to meet this particular group of women to see their newly built facility. They have received a lot of support from the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania as well the local government authorities, who supplied land for them to build a processing building. They received manual shelling tables from SIDO, the Small Industries Development Organization. The market linkage is the biggest stumbling block for small groups wanting to engage in value addition of cashews. By working with groups like this we are able to empower them to add value to their crops and earn more income. We are going to provide food safety and business training to help these groups succeed in their endeavors.

We had the pleasure of meeting with Mr. Silomba, Director of Agriculture and Processing at the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania. We discussed the cashew farmer-training program we are planning for farmers in the Mitundu Village in Singida Region. He enlightened us on the Cashewnut Development Program, which plans to plant 10 million new trees each year for the next 3 years. As part of this program the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania will support us in providing training for farmers. We will work together to ensure that farmers in new cashew-producing regions such as Singida receive the knowledge to begin growing cashews. We look forward to working together to develop the cashew production and processing capacity in Tanzania.

We visited the Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute, which is home to one of the world’s best cashew research programs. We met with Dr. Omari Mponda; Zonal Director for Research & Development, Mr. Fortunus Kapinga; Head of Cashew Breeding, Mr. Ramadhani Bashiru; Plant Propagation.

We had very fruitful discussions about our cashew farmer-training program for the Singida region. As the Singida region is a targeted region for development of cashew production in Tanzania. The Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute will support us by providing experts to deliver training to farmers. We will work together to use technology to ensure that farmers can have access to the Good Agricultural Practices of growing cashews. We are looking forward to our work together in developing the production and capacity of cashew farmers in Tanzania. In addition, we discussed the potential of supplying high quality sesame seeds to farmers in the Singida region. We have identified several markets for high quality sesame, working with the research institute, farmers will be able to produce high quality sesame that will assist in offsetting the costs of maintaining their cashew trees before they begin producing fruits. With this market-driven approach, farmers will be assured of a market and training on best practices for growing high quality sesame.

Mr. Ramadhani Bashiru was kind enough to give us a tour of his cashew farm, located just a few kilometers from the research institute. We were able to see a mechanized cashew farm, with trees ranging from 10-20 years of age. He provided us with insights on the recommended spacing for cashew trees and Good Agricultural Practices for pruning, disease control and prevention.

Below are some photos from his farm.

A little bit of history

On the way to Mtwara is Mikindani; an old port town that was once a centre of trade on East Africa’s Swahili coast. Its community leaders say the town was named for the young palm trees (mikinda) that grow around the town and bay. Its original inhabitants were members of the Makonde tribe, who were joined by Arab traders in the 9th and 17th centuries; trading in ivory, copper and tortoise shells and by the mid-18th century, the export of slaves across the Indian Ocean.

The huge natural harbor in Mikindani bay provided a picturesque backdrop for David Livingston’s last African expedition. He used Mikindani as a staging point, from which he followed the Ruvuma river along the border between Tanzania and Mozambique.

In the late 1880’s the area became part of German East Africa. Trade in the area’s natural resources of rubber, sisal, coconuts and oil seeds grew. Mikindani gained a fort (boma), a prision, a dock, a commemorative slave market, the Governor’s house and a range of administrative and residential buildings.

With the arrival of the British at the end of the first world war, Mikindani remained an important administrative post until 1947. The bay could not accommodate a deep-water port, the British administration developed the port in neighbouring Mtwara. As the centre for trade and administration moved to Mtwara, Mikindani’s focus shifted to fishing. Today Mikindani is a fascinating old town with winding streets and an interesting blend of local and Arabic influenced architecture. Arab buildings from the 17th century still stand in the town today.

The old Boma has been restored using traditional techniques, with the help of Trade Aid. It is now The Old Boma Hotel, a first class hotel that is also a vocational training institute.

June 7 2017

YYTZ Agro recently attended SIAL China 2017 - Asia's Largest Food Innovation Exhibition held in Shanghai. This was a very successful event; we were able to meet and engage with over 50 food packaging and processing equipment manufacturers. We were able to learn about the new technologies that are available to food processing companies. In addition, the companies had setup up their booths to demonstrate the functionality of their equipment to you in person. This gave us a chance to assess the build quality, components, user-friendliness and most importantly - the finished product. As a company we practice a principle learned from the Toyota Motor Corporation called Genchi Genbutsu, which means going to the source and understanding for yourself. Attending SIAL allowed us to meet and engage with many different food packaging equipment manufacturers; this will help us in the future when making our buying decision.

We were able to conclude our trip after two full exhibition days. It was such a large show that we were only in the food packaging and processing section. The other sections included the rest of the value chain; cold-chain logistics, food processing building material suppliers, and also packaged food exporters from all over the world.

Photos (top to bottom): Shanghai New International Exhibition Centre (Shanghai, China), YYTZ directors with a food processing equipment manufacturer, booths set up inside the exhibition centre.

June 7 2017

YYTZ Agro recently travelled to Qingdao, China to meet with our steel frame suppliers for the Cashew Farmer Processing Centre to begin construction later this year in Mtwara, Tanzania. We visited their facilities in the Huangdao district and finalized the design and specifications of our structure. Our trip to their facility included travelling through the world's third longest sub-sea highway tunnel. The tunnel connects the centre of Qingdao with its economic and technological zones on Huangdao island. This alone was quite the sight, the infrastructure development was something to behold. Also crossing the same body of water is the world's longest sea-crossing bridge, which spans 41.5km.

We were able to conclude our business in Qingdao and travelled on to Shanghai to attend the SIAL China 2017- Asia's largest Food Innovation Exhibition.

Photos: Steel-frame fabrication factory (Qingdao, China)

April 19 2017

YYTZ Agro recently travelled to Central Tanzania to meet with farmers in the Itigi District in Singida Region. We were invited by the Itigi District Co-operative Officer to visit and meet with farmers who are keen to begin growing cashews. The Singida region is an area that has favourable weather and soil conditions for cultivation of cashews. The Cashew nut Board of Tanzania (CBT) and the Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) have been promoting cashew production in the region for the past few years. NARI have distributed seeds to farmers through the district offices; some have been planted and have reached the age of 2-3 years. We organized the meeting to introduce farmers to our company and the work that we are doing with cashews. The meeting was to help us assess the potential of cashew production in the area and the interest from farmers to begin cultivating cashews.

Over 140 farmers attended the meeting; who came to hear about the business of growing cashews. We learned that there is great interest in growing cashews in this district. Farmers were very receptive to the idea of working with YYTZ Agro to add value to their own crop. They were extremely happy that as a company we would establish a facility for them to process their crop and purchase their production from them. The farmers asked us to organize the next meeting to provide education on best practices for growing cashews. We will work with them to provide training on Good Agricultural Practices, planting density and disease prevention. This training will be helpful to farmers in getting the most out of their cashew trees. We noticed some of the trees planted in the area were suffering from cashew powdery mildew disease. The farmers attribute this to the lack of training and a lack of availability of pesticides.

The meeting was successful and we registered 144 farmers that want to join with us and begin growing cashews. They were very keen and insisted we leave behind additional forms for those that weren't able to attend the meeting. We have taken the feedback we received from the farmers and are working with the Cashew nut Board of Tanzania and Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute to provide the latest hybrid cashew seeds and training on how to grow and take care of cashews.

Photos: (top to bottom) a cashew farm in itigi district, a cashew farm alongside the main road from Dodoma to Singida, a young cashew tree afflicted by cashew powdery mildew disease, the farmers meeting with 140+ farmers, Fahad Awadh of YYTZ Agro speaking to the farmers, lunch being served after the meeting

April 3 2017

Our founder, Fahad Awadh recently shared his experiences with the leadership team of the Tanzania Local Enterprise Development (T-LED) project. The T-LED project is funded by Global Affairs Canada. The project supports local small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) to overcome existing barriers, with particular attention paid to the additional challenges faced by female-headed SMEs. The project assists SMEs in accessing growth markets in the associated value-chains of the agribusiness and extractive markets. While also enhancing the quality and coordination of market-driven business development services.

Click here to learn more about T-Led

March 19 2017

Our founder, Fahad Awadh was recently listed on Forbes 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa 2017. As a young entrepreneur he believes in local value addition and increasing the income of the rural farmers in Tanzania.
Click here to read the full article

In December 2016, Fahad sat down with Mfonobong Nsehe from Forbes Africa to discuss his startup journey as a young entrepreneur. Read the full interview here.

April 4 2015

New Processing Facility

We are proud to announce the construction of our new processing facility, which will be located in Zanzibar within the Amaan Industrial Park.