Solar Freeze

We are a team of a new, young gen­er­a­tion of Africans with an aver­age age of 27. Like many our age, we have seen our par­ents and grand­par­ents and those before them work tire­less­ly on farms in the coun­try, only to find that much of their fresh pro­duce has spoiled for lack of prop­er cold stor­age. Mid­dle­men often stepped in and offered dirt-cheap prices, and farm­ers were forced to sell for a knock­down price out of des­per­a­tion and fear of post-har­vest losses.

Les­son num­ber one, learned at a young age: Stay out of farm­ing! It’s a sweaty endeav­or that will leave you with crusty hands and emp­ty pock­ets. We vot­ed with our feet and chose a bet­ter life in the big city. That was then. Now we see the only hope for our gen­er­a­tion to make a dif­fer­ence is in agri­cul­ture, and we have decid­ed to use our skills in renew­able ener­gy, engi­neer­ing, agri­cul­ture, busi­ness man­age­ment, ICT and com­mu­ni­ca­tion to make a dif­fer­ence for small­hold­er farmers.

Tem­per­a­ture man­age­ment is the most impor­tant tool for reduc­ing tem­per­a­ture loss­es in devel­op­ing coun­tries. Very few small­hold­ers have access to refrig­er­a­tion or cold stor­age, and even refrig­er­at­ed trans­port is a rar­i­ty. The unre­li­a­bil­i­ty of local pow­er sup­plies, the cost of con­ven­tion­al cool­ing sys­tems and the lack of tech­ni­cal exper­tise to install and main­tain them have led to a search for alter­na­tive solu­tions such as evap­o­ra­tive cool­ing sys­tems. How­ev­er, mechan­i­cal refrig­er­a­tion is still a sim­ple and effi­cient solu­tion for cool­ing prod­ucts and is usu­al­ly the only prac­ti­cal means of cool­ing to near-freez­ing tem­per­a­tures. For resource-poor farm­ers in devel­op­ing coun­tries, cold stor­age and trans­port sys­tems using mechan­i­cal refrig­er­a­tion are eco­nom­i­cal­ly and prac­ti­cal­ly unfeasible.

We are test­ing an inno­v­a­tive sys­tem, Solar Freeze™, to help small farm­ers effec­tive­ly man­age post-har­vest loss­es through a holis­tic approach from stor­age to trans­porta­tion to sell­ing pro­duce using renew­able ener­gy — from the farm to mobile, solar-pow­ered cold rooms to trans­port­ing fresh pro­duce in ener­gy-effi­cient trucks and final­ly to the end con­sumer, which pri­mar­i­ly includes cus­tomers at the bot­tom of the pyra­mid in urban areas who will ben­e­fit from low­er food prices and bet­ter nutri­tion through our innovation.