Be Like a Watermelon – Cruise the Dnipro River!

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Iryna Khomenko
Date Published:
November 12, 2018
Community Contribution
Most of the farmers and companies growing watermelon in Ukraine are small enterprises with limited access to retail supermarket chains. During the high season, demand for truck transport services dramatically increases, driving up costs. Given these costs, up to 30% of the harvest remains in the field due to lack of adequate transportation in the high season, and another 13% are damaged during truck transport on poor roads.
In order to truly discover solutions to this problem, the USAID-funded Ukraine Agriculture & Rural Development Support Program (ARDS) team brought a variety of watermelon supply chain actors from across the market system to sit at the same table. These actors formed a team to collaborate and develop a transportation pilot that could reduce these inefficiencies. In July 2017, the team designed a transportation trial run to test if a Soviet-era transportation channel, the Dnipro River, could be revived to ship watermelons, among other produce. The pilot tested if transporting produce by river would prove cheaper and more effective than ground shipments, which could potentially save the government and the agriculture industry many millions of dollars a year.
This pilot was designed using the CLA model, given the need for collaboration among many different actors, learning from the findings and improving transportation models accordingly. Knowledge pulled from the pilot has been used to reinvigorate national policy discussion around transportation and the use of waterways, and has garnered the excitement of the public. While the pilot results showed that the method was not ultimately viable, the experience the industry garnered has had a major impact on regulatory changes and has motivated the value chain. Lessons learned from the July 2017 pilot will be incorporated into a scenario planned for 2018.