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How to create extra income by innovating with waste

We should all be constantly innovating in our businesses. We need to allocate a few hours a month to look at our operations, products and competition to see what we can do to be the leader of our game.

Innovation needs not be a huge change, small increments of change can have a large effect on our profits or sales.

Have a look at your waste, see if this can be sold to a company for using as an input for a product even if they don’t pay you but come and fetch this will save you time and the worries of disposal of the waste. I was very impressed with a Columbian company who are making food trays which are disposable a by using the pineapple tops from a canning company. They fetch the waste from the canning company, pineapple which is rich in fibre is combined with recycled paper made into pulp they turnout thousands of disposable food service plates a day. These plates if placed in the garden disintegrate as they sprout. They have created jobs and the machinery is basic hand fed.

Adding design thinking to waste

It could be that a farmer growing cabbages has only a market for three quarters of the crop. The balance can be bottled into a long life product and sold into the community. Youth have a wealth of creative juices for solutions, these can be harnessed to create solutions through innovative actions. There are many innovations one is to have small mobile factories that work off solar and diesel can help to process produce to add shelf-life and value to the farmers produce. The farmer can be an agroprocessor and can sell these products to their local community increasing their income by adding value to their basic crops.

Let’s expand our thoughts and relook at all aspects of our production and see where we can upcycle. When a farmer adds value to the carrots he grows and cleans it and packs it into bags ready for sale in the store. How about carrot tops? Now how about taking the carrot tops that are filled with vitamins and minerals. They are a bit bitter with a quick blanche in hot water this can be solved serve them in salad or chopped into cabbage or mix into your carrot dish they make a good partner. Even a carrot top pesto can be made and added to your pasta, sandwiches or be creative.


John Howkins a London Business School study cited that design thinking has a proven return on investment. In his book, “The Creative Economy: How People Make Money From Ideas,” it says “for every 1 percent of sales devoted to product design and development a company’s sales and profits will rise on average by 3–4 percent a year for five years.”

So let’s set aside some time every month with your team to be creative with many benefits in the long run.

Calls for beneficiaries, sponsors and buyers

Are you a startup agribusiness? Are you a smallholder farmer? Do you need support to take your business to the next level? Contact Debbie Payne to share your story and apply at deborah.payne@agricouncil.org.

The AAC and its sponsors will contribute directly to the development of 10 million agribusinesses in Africa over the next 10 years. Support our mission by sponsoring MSP beneficiaries. Contact Manuel Singano at manuel.singano@agricouncil.org.

The AAC is working with local, regional and international buyers to understand their specific requirements regarding products, labelling, certifications etc, and use this information to guide our beneficiaries in their production processes and product development. Contact Debbie Payne at deborah.payne@agricouncil.org and join our Buyer’s Network.

About the African Agri Council NPC (AAC)

The African Agri Council NPC (AAC) is a non profit pan African institution that promotes the development of sustainable food and agriculture in Africa. We are a network of key stakeholders connected to Africa’s entire food and agriculture business value chain. We work with governments, investors and project owners and developers to accelerate investment into bankable agricultural projects, and bring together food and agriculture buyers and sellers and with a focus on attaining and improving access to regional and international markets. Our networking platforms bring together thousands of members, partners, government representatives, investors, consultants, technology providers, retailers, farmers, aggregators and traders to connect, share knowledge and together help grow Africa’s agricultural sector. For more information visit www.agricouncil.org. We run four annual events. These range in size from 400 to 950 participants. Our African Agri Investment Indaba (AAII) held in Cape Town is now Africa's largest agribusiness and investment conference. The Investment Food Forum (IFF), Market Access Africa (MAA) and AFTI Summit have attracted a lot of interest from various stakeholders and partners. As a member, you will receive a discount off the registration fees of our events. Visit www.agricouncil.org to see our upcoming event dates and save the date for our member meetings www.agricouncil.org.

For more information get in touch with Cindy Euston-Brown via email cindy.eustonbrown@agricouncil.org or go to www.agricouncil.org.