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AFH Challenge 2: Sustainability in the Food Sector

Editor’s Note: This is the final in a series of articles, in partnership with Fabulously Fit Fine, to introduce the Accra FoodHack (AFH) event and challenges to be addressed during the hackathon weekend. Accra FoodHack is brought to you by esSense 13 and powered by City Investments Company Ltd.

A solution is not one that solves an immediate problem and later generates another one. An absolute solution should be void of direct or indirect problem creation. Take healthy food vendors for example. They provide the masses with nutritious diet but their means of packaging leads to environmental pollution, which has been a major national problem for decades. As much as this has become a nation-wide issue, no progressive steps have been taken to resolve this cancer sweeping across our society. It’s easy to point out the obvious, i.e ‘suggesting a more friendly packaging.’ Ideally, huge vegetation leaves could help with environmental pollution because they decay (disappear) even if not attended to. However, it’s not as easy.  You know the business adage, “the customer is always right?” Well, that’s the few negatives that come with that mantra. The customer insisting on non-degradable packaging ruins the environment and the business-minded vendor really can’t help it.

Looking at the dynamics, there are two parties involved in this harmful problem. The party with the upper hand is the customer. So the question remains, ‘is the customer willing to save the environment?’ Discussing this topic with friends, acquaintances, and family, I can confidently say a lot of people are displeased with the high level of environmental pollution. As to whether consumers would be willing to turn down their ‘comfortability’ down a notch by packing a sealable bowl with them anytime they commute, is another question.

So whenever they want to purchase food at a sales point, its just a matter of offering your bowl and the desired food get dished in, you seal it and go dine wherever you prefer.  As much as there is less comfort in this approach, it promotes the greater good, which is keeping our bus stops, cities, neighborhoods and on a whole, our nation clean.

An alternative is for food vendors to sell these cheap and durable sealable bowls to customers who don’t want to carry one from home. To the stubborn customers who do not care about the environment and insist on non eco-friendly packaging, well, we can’t all be good citizens right? so let’s say vendors get to charge a lot extra on using that packaging option.

Another option is for customers to buy and eat the food at the place of purchase. Is this something you would consider? We researched people’s preferences on this and found that customers are willing to eat at places of purchase only if the places are clean enough. Many responders were concerned that there aren’t enough attractive places to eat and hence prefered carrying food elsewhere. Now, if the gap between 1)dining areas at food joints and 2)folks who purchase food were bridged, it will significantly reduce the need to package food from vendors.

Since we are talking about food related solutions why not step it up to not only solving problems but also making extra cash, so how about this; When we eat at home and have some leftovers, we defaultly bin it, thinking its ‘waste’. Did you know the average livestock farmer wants that ‘waste’ to feed his/her flock, head, or animals? Imagine collecting all weekly leftovers and packaging them for sale to small-to-medium livestock farmers. Depending on your marketing and business goals that is some side money you will be squeezing from the economy. Think about it.  

Ok lets not get ahead of ourselves. We can’t solve all problems with food packaging and sustainability in this article,  but we can move the conversation forward by attending the food hack and continuing the conversation there.

 

So if you have not already registered, it’s getting a bit late, actually its late because it is taking place today; head over to  http://essense13.com/hack/ for more information and to accrafoodhack.eventbrite.com to register yourself or your  team.

This article was written by Fabulosuly Fit &Fine @fabfitfine, for the Accra Food Hack.

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