[DEC 18] [REPURPOSE] Greenhouse Offer Test (Solution) - Timor-Leste

Lean Phase: Solutions


Based on our current solution the team should go out to 20 farmers and ask questions about the issues they are having and if they would be interested in a greenhouse to help resolve these issue. This should be completed in the last week of project.


Assumption: Farmers have a problem with growing crops in the extreme climate of Timor Leste and they would be willing to pay for a greenhouse to help these issues.


Time Box: 1 Week


Success Metric: Number of people who express a interest in the greenhouse


Green Light Action - Proceed, if successful continue to currency testing

Success Point:  35% of farmers express interest in resolving this issue


Orange - Optimise, look through data and feedback and test with new customer segment

Orange Light: 10-35% of farmers show interest


Failure Point - Look at alternative solutions to greenhouse

Red Light: Less then 10% of farmers think they have this issue


Experiment build: Approach farmers and ask questions about weather a greenhouse is something they see value in and if they are currently having any issues with their crops.


Example questions:

What type of farming do you do? What frustrates you as a farmer? Is the climate affecting your crops? Have you heard of a greenhouse before? Have you used a greenhouse before? What takes the most time out of your day? Have you made something to help you reduce the time? What was it?


Link to google form:


From these response it will be good to assess if they are aware they have the problem or not and if they are willing to try to fix it. If they do seem interested in the solution you may be able to assess what they are willing to pay to help the next stage of currency testing.


An explanation for the experiment not being viable can be found as a 'Work Update' post above.

edited on 15th January 2019, 06:01 by Harry Telford

Lucy Preiss 6 months ago

Status label added: Experiment adopted

Alexander Teicher 6 months ago

Super keen to see the team get some results from their hard work on the greenhouse and see customer responses to it. Are there specific types of farmers identified who you think would be more suitable for a greenhouse? I know you were looking more for hobby farmers with a bit more disposable income, maybe communities could also be an option for a group of farmers to grow their seedlings together.

Are there any commercial nurseries that might already be using greenhouses and then will be motivated by the recycling/environmental aspect?

Perhaps testing across a wider range of customers not just farmers could be investigated in the future.

Matthew Rafferty 6 months ago

If the current scope is just farmers in general, perhaps you could simultaneously test some of the other re-purpose options mentioned in previous posts during the qualify stage, to see if another product would be more suited to the customer (e.g. vertical garden), which may yield some better results than just marketing the greenhouse, and they may express interest in a product that was previously deemed unsuitable (for another customer segment). Look forward to the greenhouse results though!

Fiona Aaron 6 months ago

Very keen to see the results for this, make sure to post them please. Would be great to break up the results based on 'types of farmers' like Teich mentioned below so we can get a deeper understanding of what our target customer base might be in the long run.
For e.g. I wouldn't consider this experiment a failure if less than 10% of the farmers you spoke to said they don't have a need for this product but 90% of those farmers you approached were smallholder farmers with little to no disposable income. If you spoke to 5 commercial farmers and 1 said they would be interested, that's a great outcome. Does that make sense?

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Liv Hendy 5 months ago

Hey ERS, just some food for thought, has any time been dedicated to testing the effectiveness of the greenhouse? its critical that we are responsible with how we operate as a business so your assumption, "Farmers have a problem with growing crops in the extreme climate of Timor Leste and they would be willing to pay for a greenhouse to help these issues." have you narrowed specifically what this greenhouse would help with? I'm intrigued to see any input from any ag students working on Timor projects or in PEV community to help come up with some ideas to test this so we are confident in the product we are putting forward. Agriculture can be tricky sometimes in that issues like retaining heat, retaining water, providing shade come up so regularly we forget that each of these have a flip side.
Two issues I was just thinking about;
- How does the ventilation system regulate heat? Will this be tested effectively. Typically greenhouses are used either in cold weather climates to grow food out of season, or in warm weather climates to create a stable heat environment. For timor if the temperature is always moderately high, has any investigation been done on how to create a stable heat environment in the green house not retaining heat (this may actually be more harmful) in short do we have any data to actually back up the assumption that these greenhouses can work
- The idea of irrigation is a good one but again looking at your designs (Page 6 from 3.0 designs document on the work hub) we need to be aware that if this irrigation is rain based its basically no different that opening the roof and allow the plants to be fed by the rainfall. It would be more interesting testing issues around shade and also what plants people want to grow that can’t be grown in the Timorese climate and as you saw with Aries issues around irrigation may be solved by individual farmers making their own moderations.

I would love to see a test done placing a thermometer inside the greenhouse, sealing it and then recording the temperature zone throughout the day. Hopefully this will find that the temperature remains consistent.

Also Kappos I noticed you were talking about prototyping a fully seeled greenhouse - that would be the best option in regards to having a conventional greenhouse.

The alternative to all of this is just investigating whether people want a greenhouse (a sealed off structure that retains moisture/prevents flooding/drought through creating in a mini climate, prevents external pests and maintains consistent temperature) or whether people just want a structure to shade, house seedlings, protect plants in which more time can be dedicated to the applications people would use them for (ie the ideas you guys have come up with regarding modular assembly) rather than other issues.

Let me know what you think - I'm intrigued to know have you created a lean canvas for this new product? and as another element in this we need to be careful around the difference between a solution and a means to an end. It's interesting testing the need for greenhouses but as we've all seen sometimes people are willing to say yes because it sounds like a good idea. Could any insights be given from farmed teams from the past/current as well as input from previous impact assessments on whether this can be measured as a viable product or just as something we've come up with as a potential solution but not the best solution for the context. (can any previous timor GLs/Support staff give any recommendations for this as I really am just talking from other country experience not timor knowledge)

Could there be a way through this by seeing what people would grow in them (subtropical crops that need consistent temperature OR crops that can't be grown in the harsher regions of timor) and then seeing the demand for a solution to that problem.

Ciaran Hoare 5 months ago

I don't have access to impact assessment, could someone please attach it for the greenhouse from July and December?
RE Liv's point on solution or a means to an end, the example questions provided seem to approach a perceived customer segment with a solution without seeking to understand the customers need (specifically the questions addressing greenhouse understanding and use). If this product sells well, but doesn't actually work, then we're in a sticky mess from an impact standpoint.
Has any ag team seen people using greenhouses around Dili before? Does anyone study ag at UNTL? More rurally it is obviously much cooler, so I sealed greenhouse may be of some use there, however I'm not well versed on the state of subsistence farming in the mountains. Jack Bennett spent a month in Ermera so could shed light.

Selling greenhouses essentially becomes a whole new project if it's decided to continue, so it needs to start from step 1.

FWIW I feel the repurposed 'thatched' roof idea is good from the standpoint that it is a raw building material, which most people would use (especially rurally), however this is still an assumption which would need to be tested.

Matthew Rafferty 5 months ago

Ciaran and Liv, thanks for your input.

At this point in time, we have decided to suspend the greenhouse operations for a few reasons:
1. The point Ciaran mentioned about ideating before empathising; this is a textbook recipe for 'failure' as we'd be assuming that the design is suitable for particular customer segments (e.g. Farmers) and any sales would be pure luck.
2. Scalability. Assuming we find a suitable customer segment to sell the greenhouses to, making them takes hours, and that's still only an MVP stage. To increase quality (e.g. sealing/waterproofing), adds more labour, making it even harder to scale, raising the question: is it sustainable??

Essentially I don't want to spend time on a V4.0 greenhouse when it's not suitable for the local market, and to find suitable customers for a product that was made based on available resources and not solid empathy data, is near impossible

Ciaran, your point about potentially starting a greenhouse project is cool, but it is beyond the scope of what we are focusing on this month.

Liv Hendy 5 months ago

That sounds awesome Matt and team. It's also interesting potentially some conversations can happen between teams that if Farmed is out asking about problems for farmers, they could start flicking some info so when/if we get enough data a definitive answer can be found on whether there is sufficient demand for the greenhouses.

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Harry Telford 5 months ago

Status label added: Proposal not viable

Harry Telford 5 months ago

Status label removed: Experiment adopted

Harry Telford 5 months ago

Moderation status changed: Closed