Solar solution mooted for Africa’s produce wastage problem


4 November 2015

In developing countries, particularly in the warmer climates of Africa and Asia, 45% of food goes bad because of a lack of cold storage. It’s a specifically tough challenge for small-scale farmers transporting fresh produce from rural farms to urban markets. Food can be left in scorching heat for hours, ruining it and ultimately leading to large financial losses for both farmers and sellers.

An industrial start-up company in Lagos, Nigeria, has developed a solution: solar-powered refrigeration stations.

ColdHubs, founded by entrepreneur-farmer Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, could have the potential to solve the food wastage issue and help to save the livelihoods of the over 500 million farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The idea has the potential to level the playing fields for small-scale farmers against large mass-production farming, giving them a competitive edge by solving storage challenges. For South Africa, the ColdHubs idea could help fulfil some of the goals of the National Development Programme, including sustaining rural communities’ economy and contributing to food security.

Using solar panels to power the refrigeration, ColdHubs is an easily assembled, modular walk-in cold room that provides effective storage and preservation for perishable foods for up to 21 days, cutting down on food wastage by 80%. Farmers can rent the units as a pay-as-you-store subscription, making it cheaper to use.

Designed for use in small-scale fresh food production and at informal food markets, ColdHubs’ units provide farmers with 12cm-thick cold insulation walls, keeping the inside temperature at a constant 5 degrees Celsius.

Chosen by the science ministries of United Nations member states, the ColdHubs concept is one of 14 environmentally friendly innovations from over 800 global ideas that best represent the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Source: Celebrating Progress Africa