Post-harvest food losses: a priority for Africa

Around a third of all food produced globally is lost or wasted. In Africa, the figure is estimated to be as high as 50%. In developing countries, this happens mainly because of poor crop harvest and handling practices early in the value chain.

A report by Global Knowledge Initiatve (GKI) calls for investment into ‘quick wins’ that show promise for immediate impact – one example of that would be ColdHubs, which is providing affordable refrigeration to farmers in Nigeria. ColdHubs sells access to refrigeration hubs on a pay-as-you-store basis, solving the problem for individual farmers of large upfront investment in their own equipment.

“A 20 kg crate of tomatoes sells in Nigeria for US$40-50 [€32-40] during the peak season,” says Nnaemeka Ikebwuonu, CEO of ColdHubs. “That’s the price from 7am until about 1pm. By this time, rot has set in and it is sold for 50% less. By 5-6pm, it will be sold for 80% less. But ColdHubs enables farmers to store that 20 kg crate for US$0.50 [€0.40].” In other words, if a farmer has surplus tomatoes, an affordable €0.40 investment per crate will enable them to stagger sales and prevent a substantial loss in income.

US start-up company Evaptainers is taking a traditional refrigeration technique – evaporative cooling – and using it to manufacture pre-built, lightweight mobile refrigeration devices. Its EV-8 is a collapsible box made with a synthetic fabric, and users just pour water into the space between the inner and outer layers to activate the cooling process. It will sell for €20-28 and a pilot project using 300-500 units is planned in Morocco this year, with a view to an eventual wider roll-out in other countries.

Sara Farley, chief operating officer and co-founder of the Global Knowledge Initiatve explains: “Sometimes, innovations that seem more incremental in nature are also capable of ushering in large-scale and long-term change.”

[Read full article]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *