Neville is known for his dedicated efforts in redistributing and rescuing food. The young entrepreneur (co-)founded several companies. In 2015, he started with creating Rise Together for Africa e.V (RiTA), a franchise organisation for universities that empowers youth of African descent living and studying in the diaspora to become the future leaders of Africa. In 2019, the same year he co-founded GreenStone Foods (Pvt) Ltd, he established FruitCon BV, a company which provides market preparatory consultancy and market linkages to farmers and exporters in developing countries. Since 2020, he is the Co-Founder and CEO of Invisible Foods, a data driven waste management toolbox that collects food waste data, makes it available to enable food re-use, and incentivises food companies to increase circularity. Neville holds a Bachelor’s degree in agribusiness and agricultural business operation from the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences, Germany.

Neville Mchina

CEO, GreenStone Foods Ltd

Business Location: Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Type: Limited Liability Company
Year of Founding: 2019
Number of Employees: 44 farmers, 70% of whom are women
CEO: Neville Mchina

Mission: GreenStone Foods (Pvt) Ltd operates in line with its motto “Transforming communities through natural foods”. It aims to:

  • highlight Zimbabwe’s horticultural produce through global trade
  • improve livelihoods and combat poverty through trade, create jobs for generations to come, making farming an attractive profession
  • play an active role in sustainable development through climate smart agriculture and products, promoting organic farming in Zimbabwe

 

Business Model

GreenStone Foods (Pvt) Ltd trades fresh and processed Zimbabwean products locally and internationally to transform local communities. The company sources their produce, mainly pineapple, from farming communities in the Eastern highlands – one of the most productive agricultural areas of Zimbabwe. The farmers there have been growing pineapples since 1988, and had never commercialised until the opportunity arose through GreenStone Foods (Pvt) Ltd.

The name GreenStone symbolises the company’s commitment to improving the livelihoods of people in Zimbabwe, with “green” signifying the provision of sustainable benefits to people, the planet and the economy, and “stone” symbolising a block that is used to build long lasting, agile structures. Accordingly, GreenStone Foods (Pvt) Ltd is contributing to rebuilding the economy for the benefit of all, especially future generations, by putting farmers first. GreenStone Foods (Pvt) Ltd is the first organic Queen Victoria pineapple supplier to the European Union (EU).

Relationship with Smallholders

GreenStone Foods (Pvt) Ltd aims to improve livelihoods and address poverty through trade, which is increasing farmers’ income, creating jobs, and reducing food loss. Currently, the company works with 44 experienced organic producers, who farm the Queen Victoria pineapple in the Rusitu Valley.

Products Covered and Markets

GreenStone Foods (Pvt) Ltd markets two types of Queen Victoria pineapples that have been naturally grown in the Rusitu valley since 1988. The smaller organic Queen Victoria pineapple is produced for the European export market, while the larger natural Queen Victoria pineapple is distributed locally. While the company specialises in pineapples, it is developing additional products that could be farmed off-season, including grains that are desired in the EU market such as chia seeds and quinoa. The company is also producing ancient, drought resistant grains, namely finger millet and pearl millet, as well as maize meal for the local market.

GreenStone Foods (Pvt) Ltd is highly focused on exports to increase foreign currency earnings, exporting about 224 tons per annum through an exclusive contract with Eosta BV, the EU’s largest organic fruit trading company. The organic baby pineapples are exported to the Netherlands, Germany and France. The larger pineapples are distributed on the local market to Chipinge, Mutare, Marondera, Harare, Gweru and Bulawayo.

Innovations: Milestones and Expansion Plans

In March 2019, the Rusitu Valley was heavily affected by Cyclone Idai. This disaster had devastating impacts on GreenStone Foods (Pvt) Ltd’s pineapple farmers and impeded the farmers’ progress of obtaining their organic certification. Project GreenStone has been established to provide disaster-proof housing, infrastructure and services to re-capacitate the livelihoods of these farmers, and to re-enable pineapple exports. COLEAD assisted the farmers in their recovery by providing training and technical assistance on good organic pineapple production practices upon request of ZimTrade, the Zimbabwean National Trade Development and Promotion Organisation, a long-term partner. By August of 2021, the pineapple farmers were able to achieve organic certification to access the EU market.

GreenStone Foods (Pvt) Ltd is also a distributor of the ACE-1, an affordable, household off-grid stove that is powered by biomass and solar. This product is smokeless, rendering it suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. It also has an integrated powerbank and USB port that allows for up to 20 hours of charging, solar panel and LED-light. The handcrafted ACE-1 reduces fuel use by 50%, offering an alternative to costly, resource-heavy cooking equipment.

GreenStone Foods (Pvt) Ltd aims to increase its capacity for training farmers, so that the company can scale up from 44 farmers to 528 by 2025. The company is working towards getting Global GAP and EU organic certifications for their farmers, which will assist in increasing the export volume. To further increase the resilience of their farmers and reduce the amount of food waste, GreenStone Foods (Pvt) Ltd wishes to scale up their dehydrating machinery. Lastly, the company wants to invest into a local disaster-proof packing house, considering the disaster prone area that they operate in.

Success Factors and Lessons Learned

While the company specialises in fresh pineapples, they have diversified their produce to overcome the vulnerabilities linked a single value chain that include a limited number of harvests seasons per year (two), the susceptibility of harm to the crops from adverse weather patterns, and the high likelihood of food waste when relying on only fresh produce. The company is exploring ways to increase the productive and financial resilience of the farmers throughout the year, as well as the sustainability of the business. GreenStone Foods (Pvt) Ltd is contributing to reducing food and money loss in the supply chain through diversifying farmers’ income with equipment such as dehydrating machinery.

In addition to diversifying their product range, GreenStone Foods (Pvt) Ltd is investing into local market opportunities to fill in the gaps between supply and export demand and is producing grains (finger and pearl millet, maize meal) for the local market. This creates an additional source of income for farmers boosting their resilience, while the farmers are contributing to the food security in their community.

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