ColdHubs: How solar-powered cold storage is keeping food fresh in Nigeria

That is why Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu determined to take a recent method to meals waste. He is the founding father of ColdHubs, which offers solar-powered meals storage models designed for markets and farms.

The 39-year-old has gained numerous awards for the initiative and has simply been introduced because the joint winner of the $1.5 million AYuTe Africa Challenge, for promising younger innovators who’re utilizing know-how to reimagine meals manufacturing on the continent.

Formally launched in 2015, ColdHubs now has 54 models in 22 states throughout Nigeria. Greater than 5,250 smallholder farmers, retailers, and wholesalers use its chilly rooms and in 2020, the corporate saved 40,000 tons of meals, lowering waste and growing farmers’ earnings.

“That is meals meant for human consumption that we usually lose alongside the provision chain, both throughout harvesting, transportation, or distribution,” says Ikegwuonu. “The mission actually is to scale back meals spoilage attributable to lack of chilly meals storage at key factors alongside the meals provide chain.”

Tackling a meals waste disaster

Nigeria is ranked 100 out of 113 international locations on the World Meals Safety Index. Over 88 million folks within the nation face meals insecurity and 12% are undernourished.
The issue is not a scarcity of meals, although: it is an extra of waste. An alarming 40% of the meals Nigeria produces yearly is misplaced earlier than it even reaches customers. That is equal to 31% of its whole land use, according to the World Bank, and accounts for five% of the nation’s greenhouse gasoline emissions.
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Ikegwuonu’s ColdHubs are 10-foot-square chilly storage models which preserve produce recent for as much as 21 days. Typical chilly storage models of this dimension could be powered by diesel turbines and require 20 to 30 liters of diesel on daily basis, says Ikegwuonu — however through the use of photo voltaic panels as a substitute, he says that throughout all its models, the corporate prevents over 1 million kilograms of CO2 getting into the environment annually, whereas powering the models 24/7.
In keeping with the UN, meals waste accounts for as much as 10% of world greenhouse gasoline emissions, so discovering options to scale back waste might be very important within the battle in opposition to local weather change.

Storing a crate of produce within the ColdHub prices round 25 cents per day, and has helped farmers and retailers double their month-to-month earnings, says Ikegwuonu: “This has been achieved by promoting produce that was beforehand thrown away, bought off on the proper worth.”

ColdHubs are now available at farms and markets in 22 Nigerian states.

Scaling up

Seeking to the long run, Ikegwuonu says ColdHubs can also be growing know-how to freeze produce, for fishing communities within the Niger Delta. “A lot of the coastal communities do not have entry to power in any respect,” he says, including that these freezer storage models would even have the capability to provide ice blocks.

Ikegwuonu additionally needs to increase his social affect by creating gender parity and jobs in a rustic the place round 35% of all employment is in agriculture, and 90% of rural livelihoods depend upon it.

“We now have been capable of create about 66 new jobs for girls,” he says. “Many of those girls have turn out to be empowered and alter brokers of their households and communities.”

Ikegwuonu says his present focus is on increasing the enterprise additional in Nigeria — however within the subsequent decade, he has his sights set on different international locations combating comparable meals waste issues.

“The large dream for us is to resolve the issue of meals spoilage in Nigeria, and broaden our know-how and repair to different African international locations which have these challenges,” he says.

Nature's ticking time bomb?
Nature's ticking time bomb?

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