We were disappointed to learn that Africa Felix Juice (AFJ) would not, after all, be able to purchase our pineapple harvest for juice processing. They recently closed their nearby processing plant, requiring us to execute our backup plan to sell the fruit on the local fresh market. Graciously, AFJ has loaned us their trucks and drivers to pick up the harvest and deliver it to the Luma, the nearest market to Bauya.
Our crew has harvested and delivered three loads of pineapples, amounting to about 8,000 pineapples total. They have done a great job in spite of the wet weather. Much like our outdoor markets and activities here, heavy rains drastically reduce the number of people in attendance, increasing the number of days it takes to sell a load.
Sullay and our team continue to learn about pineapple, including harvesting, loading, shelf life in a hot truck, sales and “what stage of ripe” the customer base is looking for. We have adjusted our selection process for harvest, and it seems to be paying off. Our first load had a spoilage rate of more than 600 fruits out of 2,800, but on the second load, the rate was reduced to 60 fruits out of 3,000.
Sullay and Joe have found another market, where people are sending trucks to the site to buy fruit in bulk, and we already have sold 50 dozen through that market. The selling price was lower than the more urban market; however, the net profit was almost the same if not slightly higher, as we did not have the expenses associated with a three-day selling trip, such as fuel, food and overnight costs.
We have been able to hire back some of the women who served as temporary workers earlier in the season and assisted with planting and watering. They are now assisting in the harvest and transporting the pineapples to the vehicle collection point. This provides them with valuable additional income for this time of year, known as “the hungry months,” because food stores are getting low and new crops are not yet producing.