More important is the business orientation of our research. We specialise in market information where the information is not readily available.
The Consultancy has by now gone far beyond market research, marketing and distribution. Most of the assignments now are to do with rural development based on thorrough value chain analysis. A lot of the work is still export led. There is also increasing work on processing and processed products.
Renewable Energy plus Water Purification
Vinay Chand is a partner of REEP and increasingly involved with renewable energy because of our long term involvement with coconuts, interest in solving the arsenic poisoning of well waters in Bengal and in membrane distillation purification of water. This involvement brings us to renewable energy through using biomas (coconut husks and coconut shells) for electricity generation and biofuel (coconut oil) for fuel. In turn, the interest springs from the realisation that 90% of coconut husks and shells are not used commercially and many of them could be used to generate electricity. Since we work with coconuts, this use falls within our domain. However, this interest is now broadening to an engagement in all renewable energy aspects.
A second aspect comes from water purification. For over 40 years Vinay Chand has been working with Aapo Saask of Scarab AB Sweden (www.scarab.se) who has been developing a water purification technology known as 'Membrane Distillation' which can purify any water completely. However, it does so only by use of energy to heat the water to be purified. Availability of low grade waste heat at a low cost greatly reduces the resulting cost of water purification. The search for waste heat brought us to the idea that we could use biogas power solutions for purifying water, thus more than doubling the revenue stream and making both, biogas and MD more commercially interesting. In any case, combination of technologies now allows:
Part of the reason why the above has not been developed is that there were no ready markets for the various potential income streams. More than half all energy generated is in the form of heat and most of it is wasted since there are few ready applications. We are lucky in that our interests identify crop drying as one application for waste heat. In the Pacific, for example, cocoa and copra can be dried using that waste heat.
Scarab has in recent years been working with the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (KTH) on a platform for polygeneration. Much work remains to be done. KTH is one of the leading research institutions on renewable energy.
Biogass is not the only sustainable energy we are interested in. We are also interested in biomass, solar collectors, waste heat and use of vegetable oil as a diesel substitute. But biogass generation and using waste heat from boilers etc to purify water is a relatively new commitment. It has exciting implications for decentralised rural electrification.
The newer renewable energy technologies are growing very fast but they have generally not arrived at commercial viability. Certainly, photovoltaic cells are not viable without strong subsidies and are unlikely to be within the next 5 years. Solar collectors are closer to viability but probably still more than 3 years from viability. Biogas and biomas are viable today but only marginally so. Biogass is not competitive in the most efficient fosil fuel energy plants who can produce electricity at around 2-3 US cents per KWh. Biogass is above 6 cents and mostly above 8 cents. However, in many developing countries the cost of electricity is close to those figures when it is available.
By using biogas to generate the heat or generating steam with biomass, the heat can be used with Membrane Distillation to purify water. The revenues from the two systems combined are more than doubled and the combination is viable and profitable. There are further economies where the heat can be used for other commercial purposes. Our interest in coconuts leads to using spare husks for fuel and this appears to be a particulary attractive option on some of the more remote islands, as in the case of the Pacific.In the way of illustration, the heat can be sued for copra or cocoa drying. But there is a general need to dry crops.
In Bangladesh, Vinay Chand prepared a proposal now adopted by Grameen Shakti for combining biogass digestors and generators with water purification of wells contaminated with arsenic. Grameen Shakti is a leading developer of sustainable power on a village basis in Bangladesh. They use biodigestors together with solar collectors to generate and sell energy in villages which otherwise do not have electricity. An impediment is that energy is often haevily subsidised making it difficult to develop renewable energy sources. The addition os other cash streams from water and waste heat can make the difference between being and not being viable.
In the Solomon Islands, we are helping develop a strategy that may include using coconut oil as a biodisel and using spare husks to generate electricity while purifying water. It makes good sense to combine these different technologies. Use of spare husks to set up small energy units at villages allows a local waste product to bring electricity and spare heat which can be used for copra drying and/or water purification.
A major complication is that in many countries electricity is subsidised, directly or indirectly. Renewable means are thus further disadvantaged in establishing viability. Globally electricity rates charged vary greatly from as low as 6 cents per KWh to well over 40 cents.
Systems have to be designed in the context of the local situation. In Bangladesh, the subsidised cost of electricity means that renewable energy has either got to be subsidised to the same degree or there have to be other cashflows. In the Pacific, electricity costs are so high that the revenue from selling electricity would provide the main revenue flow. A pilot plant at Port Orly on Santo in Vanuatu, financed by EC, has demonstrated the soundness of the approach and is selling electricity at 10 cents per KWhour instead of the 40 charged by the utility.
Work has also covered other applications including washing wafers and micro chips during production. Vinay Chand is CEO of Xzero AB which is undertaking this challenge and recently addressed an Ultra Pure Water Conference in Phoenix Arizona in 2012 as well as attending the 2013 Conference in Portland, Oregon.
A very exciting new development will be a new generation of micro chips on the 450mm wafer and the advanced materials and processes being developed to take advantage of it. The new process will require fabs ten times as expensive as current ones and it is expected that only 5 companies will be major producers of micro chips in the future. XZERO is in the process of joining in this development and is to have its system tested at one of the most advanced facilities in the world. A Xzero system will be used to see if it can improve the purest water that can be achieved by a combination of the established technologies today.
It is interesting to combine consultancy and business on the most advanced technologies as well as rural development.
2015 Developing the polygeneration concept for Bangladesh using cow dung and for the Pacific Coconut Region using coconut shells.
2014 Feasibility study for Copra producers Association of Fiji on Virgin Coconut Oil and Coconut Milk.
Consultancy for Vanuatu Farmers Association on production of higher value coconut products.
2013 Feasibility Study on the production of tender coconut water near Mombasa in Kenya for a private client.
2012 Feasibility Study on production of oconut water in Kenya for a private client.
Presented paper on Total Removal of Killer Particles at Ultra Pure Water Conference held in Phonenix, Arizona
for Xzero AB.
Retained Consultant by Global Food Corporation to advise on long term procurement of coconut water and
milk and identification of potential partners. Visit to Philippines and Indonesia.
Action fiche for Pacific Regional Coconut Development for the ACP/EC. A project to develop and
2011 propose pilot grant financed high value coconut projects, the main effort being in Fiji, Papua New Guinea,
Solomon Islands and Vanuatu but also covering Tonga and Samoa.
Preparing background for next stage of DANIDA Agricultural Sector Development programme for
Mid Term Evaluation of project for Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) in the Pacific for the
EC. Visited Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. The project aims to target direct
assistance to SMEs in commodity exporting and has proven largely successful.
2010 Competitiveness of cloves, cocoa, vailla and pepper from Madagascar for EC. Missions to Asia, USA
and Europe. Madagascar is the leading exporter of vanilla and a major xporter of cloves. The EC is assisting
the country through a rural development programme of which this forms a part.
Coconut Sector Strategy for Binh Dinh Province in Vietnam, financed by NZAid. A sector strategy so that
officials can assess if coconuts should be given priority. Part of a capacity development programme by New
Assistance to Ambassador Group representing the Pacific Region to the European Commission on
a Regional Capacity Strengthening Programme for Coconut Sector Development. The Ambassadors have
come to the conclusion that the sector needs prioritisation and there are unallocated funds avilable in the
Regional allocations of the EC.
Continued inputs to stakeholder coconut sector strategy development and project formulation in the
Solomon Islands for ITC. A Draft Strategy was launched in November. The project has achieved the
establishment of a National Coconut Sector Committee and a draft strategy but with no means of
progressing any further.
Project proposal on aseptic coconut milk plant for Malaita in the Solomon Islands for the Malaita Coconut
Advisory Committee. Since adopted as part of the sector strategy being promoted by the
Coconut Committee of Malaita.
2009 Global market for and market development potential for coconut husk products, including
mulch, peat and coir products for GTL as part of a development in south and South-East
Asia. Through investments in Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India, the intention is to produce peat
from husks that would be sold to high value markets and to process coir into pads and rubberised coir
products.If expectations are met, GTL will be the largest single producer of coir and peat in the world. GTL
has commenced operations with a number of acquisitions and is setting up own production.
Participatory strategy development for the coconut sector in the Solomon Islands for ITC
as part of the EU ACP All Commodities Programme including biomas uss of husks, biofuel use of coconut
oil, production of higher value products such as milk, water and virgin coconut oil..The value chain based
approach used is one of participatory strategy formulation by the stakeholders. It is a long process which
started in the summer of 2009 and will go on beyond the summer of 2010. The emphasis is on the
strengthening of the capacity to undertake sector strategy.
Supervised 7 sector surveys and analysis in Bangladesh for a IFC study including: seeds,
fresh and processed fruit and vegetables, garmenting, washing and dyeing, foundries,
electricals, and poultry. Nearly 100 local consultants were engaged in undertaking the design, testing and
implementation of surveys, followed up with workshops, key Informant interviews and Focus Group
discussions, all executed in close coordination with SEDF.
Paper on Food Security at Africa Soft Commodities Conference at London by Cubic Globe. The main
commodities covered included rice, wheat, maize, cocoa, coffee, oil palm and rubber.
Team Leader/Trade Expert on EC Mission to Egypt to Provide a factual assessment of ongoing trade
related cooperation (EC-Egypt) and identify Egypt’s trade and trade related assistance needs including in
the area of industrial policy. There was some controversy generated by the Consultants having to chose
whether to accept what the Egyptian Government was saying or to back the strong reservations by the
young project manager for the EC.
2008 Value Chain Specialist on Cambodia Agriculture and Agri-business support Programme for Aus Aid to prepare a National Sector Strategy based on value chain analysis of main soft commodities and design of intervention required. The strategy recommended at the end of the day was in line with what policy had been for some time.
Resource speaker with paper on Markets for and Marketing of Jute Geotextiles in a workshop held in Kolkotta by the International Jute Study Group, financed by CFC. The use of jute for geotextiles in the global market has grown far slower than that for other natural fibres like coir.
Project Identification study on the potential for Integrated Coconut Processing for high value products and energy self sufficiency as part of an agro-tourism Estate in the Dominican Republic for a private client. A year later the client announced a $2 billion project to develop the region.
2007 Agribusiness and Marketing Project, Market Infrastructure Assessment for ABCC of the Kyrgyz Republic and financed by the World Bank. The task was to assess proposals put forward by ABCC, the local party, for a public/private wholesaler/exporter operation for Agriculture in light of rigid dogmatic scepticism on the part of the World Bank Country Officer. The value chains of various soft commodities was covered.
Feasibility study on bottling operation for spring and mineral water in Bhutan for ITC
as part ofexportoriented capacity building and institutional strengthening.
2006 The Value chains, Market and Prospects for Erosion Control materials in South East Asia including gabions, geosynthetics and biodegradables for European Client intending to establish production in Indonesia. The client is now producing gabions in Indonesia and sourcing geosynthetics within the region.
Preparation of Position Paper for the International Trade Centre on Assistance to Jute/Kenaf, Coir and Sisal Global Industries. ITC has had a long engagement with the three fibres.
Lecture at Seminar organised in Bangkok by the Thai-German Chamber of Commerce on the Export of Fresh and Processed Fruit and Vegetables for the European Commission.
Market Development of traditional and non traditional jute products for private clients who are three leading jute mills in Pakistan. The intention was to use the high level of productivity achieved at the mills to diversify products and markets.
2005 Team Leader/Marketing Expert on Mission to Support Creation of an Intra-ACP Thematic Programme for Implementation of the Plan of Action on Agricultural Commodities and Plan of action for the EU-Africa Cotton Partnership for European Commission. The Action Plan promotes rigorous value chain based analysis commodity based sectoral development strategies through financial contributions to the World Bank, FAO, ITC, UCTAD and CFC to promote coordination in promoting the goals of the Action Plan. A very ambitious assignment. The Report is now being implemented with mixed results. We have learned a great deal from the process of planning the programme to watching how it has been implemented and actually participating in a small part of that. A choice had to be made as to the value chain based approach to sector strategy and emphasis was placed on a participatory rather than top down approach. There is also an element of market driven choice in that beneficiary countries are allowed to chose some of the modules that the 5 organisations offer.Much has subsequently been learned from the experience on value chain analysis as well as on participatory stakeholder workshops.
Moderator and Reporter on developing a global road map for jute financed by CFC, implemented by the International Jute Study Group and workshops held in Geneva, Calcutta and Dhaka by the International Trade Centre (WTO/UNCTAD). The workshops in Calcutta and Dhaka and Geneva were very well attended.What resulted was a development plan for the jute industry that covered production, processing and marketing.
UK supply chains and Marketing and Distribution of Small Electrical Kitchen Appliances for Purity AB. Discussions were held with leading brands in the UK as well as retail chains. An interesting aspect studied were the relative strengths of retail and brands within the value chain.
Global Market Opportunities for high end residential water purification systems for HVRAB and prospects for proprietary Membrane Distillation Technology. Markets covered included the USA and Western Europe for which value chain analysis was undertaken.
Preparation of background technical paper on Biodiversity Promotion Facility for Agricultural Commodities proposal for funding by GEF to be used in preparation of Consultancy Proposal by leading European Consultancy. Commodities covered included coffee, cocoa, cotton, sugar, oil palm, soya, oilseeds, and sugar.
Market development, promotion and sales of first commercial water purification units based on Membrane Distillation technology for XzeroAB.
2004 Mission to look at production, processing and marketing of rubber in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam to assist in the Planning for Smallholder Rubber Production and Processing in Cambodia on behalf of AFD. The value chains for rubber in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam were examined to provide benchmarks for the Cambodian value chain for rubber.
Assessment and Evaluation of Global Market Opportunities for Jute and Jute Products for the SEDF of the International Finance Corporation/World Bank as assistance to Bangladesh Jute Industry.
Preparation of Conceptual and Technical Material on the identification of Pro-Poor Agricultural Growth-Engines using Commodity Value Chain Analysis in the framework of poverty reduction strategy for Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN (FAO).
Team Leader and Agribusiness specialist Agribusiness and Commercial Agriculture Assessment for India on a Contract for Asian Development Bank, including analysing current regulatory regime, practices and value chain analysis with a view to promoting agricultural diversification and agribusiness development and a road map for four targeted states followed up by a Loan Preparation Mission from the ADB.
2003 Export Market Prospects for Diversified Agricultural and Agri-Business Products from Cambodia for the International Trade Centre (ITC) WTO/UNCTAD. Produce considered included fruit, vegetables, spices, herbs, essential oils, juices, cashew, coconut milk and mattresses. Presentation of findings to local SMEs as well as the donor community.
Evaluation of NORAD project in Bangladesh to help participating private sector enterprises develop and export diversified value-added jute products. The project has led to product development of a higher quality fabric and products with substantial involvement of poor women working in remote rural locations.
Diversified Agriculture/Agro Business prospects in Cambodia for export led poverty alleviation for International Trade Centre (ITC). Preparation of basket of projects including horticulture, spices, essential oils and agro-processing.
2002 Mission Leader on evaluation of operations and management of the Dambulla Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market in Sri Lanka and Business Plan for its possible expansion and privatisation for International Finance Corporation (IFC). Scope of study widened to Development of Horticulture in the Dambulla Region.
2001 Agriculturist on European Commission (EC) Pre-completion Evaluation Mission to Philippines on Agrarian Reform Support Project in 5 provinces: Camarines del Sur; Negros Oriental; and Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur in Northern Mindanao. The project provided support in infrastructure, credit and TA to mainly rice, sugarcane; corn and forestry small farmers empowered under land distribution schemes. The evaluation found that participating farmers had indeed greatly increased earnings with the assistance received and that the relative gains were related to certain types of assistance such as primary on farm processing.
Mission on coconut product processing to Comoros for International Trade Centre to identify prospects for use of by-products from coconuts in particular in the form of husks and shells..