“Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go.” – Anthony Bourdain

The food industry is indeed a complex, global collective of diverse organisations that supply most of the food consumed by the world’s population. “According to the United Nations, Africa’s agribusiness is expected to be worth $1 trillion by 2030. This is because Africa is better positioned as a conducive farming territory than most continents. About 60% of unused arable land is in Africa. In addition, Africa has an abundant labour force and the climate supports agricultural activity. In Zimbabwe, most of the food is produced by smallholder farmers who use old farming methods and have limited resources.” Innovation and advancements are therefore essential to help grow and promote the food industry. A start-up called Aqua Crunch, a finalist at the 2019 Start-up Tour Bus competition in Matebeleland North,  is changing the way food is processed and consumed in Zimbabwe. 

Aqua Crunch Private Ltd was founded in 2018 by Alan Nare, an animal science and rangeland management student from Lupane State University.  After countless visits to smallholder farmers, Nare was captivated by food originating from animals and the idea of food processing started to percolate through his mind. The mission was simple, to amplify small-medium food production units in Matabeleland through sustainable production systems from the farm to the consumer’s table.

The company produces high-quality, processed animal products and works solely with local small-medium scale farmers, a point of pride for Nare and Co. The team currently comprises of animal science, food science and agriculture economics students and graduates.

Aqua Crunch started as a food marketing business in 2018, for local farm products, primarily meat and horticultural products. In 2019 they decided to focus on food grown locally in an effort to keep small-holder farmers from going out of business. Along the way they also started to produce their own food products such as the Milk Bar, a natural dairy product processed from milk produced by local dairy farms.

The company first started selling their products to Lupane State University. Aqua Crunch faced some challenges along the way such as funding and insufficient capacity which motivated them to pitch at the Youth Connekt Start-up Tour Bus Competition. 

‘Sincere gratitude goes to Youth Connekt who really helped us improve our pitching skills and they changed the way we saw business.’-  Alan Nare

After the competition,  Aqua Crunch gained more recognition and.one of their recent achievements was earning second prize at the Zimbabwe Progressive Youth Foundation (ZPYF) pitch competition. Aqua-Crunch is currently operating in Lupane, where they’ve been running the Milk Bar business selling smoothies, milkshakes, amasi and artisan cheese. They  also sell smoked and aged chevon and pork. Their plan is to set up a processing facility in  Lupane town, a promising business area which continues to develop each day. . The other goal is to establish an organised meat and milk transportation, processing and delivery system.  

“In the next 5 years, I see Aqua-Crunch as one of the biggest Animal products processing companies One thing that I have learnt in business which I’d also like to share with other entrepreneurs is that you have to grow organically in business, step by step.”_Alan Nare

What other solutions are improving the food value chain in Zimbabwe? Share your comments below: