Young Nigerian entrepreneur Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu and Ugandan engineering graduate Lawrence Okettayot have developed low-tech innovative solutions to address food waste in their own countries.
Intermittent power supplies and poor storage facilities mean that staple foods – among them cereals, roots and tubers – are too often lost after being harvested, and before they arrive at market. In fact, half of all the fruit and vegetables produced in Africa is thrown away while millions of people across the continent are going hungry.
To help solve this problem, Ikegwuonu has set up ColdHubs which are dotted across Nigeria, in various farms and markets. Solar panels, mounted on the roof, feed high-capacity batteries – these feed the refrigerating unit, which is made of 120mm insulating panels. The entire unit uses about 1kW of energy, and farmers pay a flat daily fee for each crate of food they store. Ikegwuonu estimates that farmers reduce their losses by 80% using ColdHubs, primarily because they have more stock to sell.
Lawrence Okettayot’s farming family in Uganda has suffered from heavy economic losses due to food waste over the past few decades, and his solution comes in the form of dehydration rather than cold storage.
The Sparky Dryer, as he and his colleagues call it, runs on biofuel from a farmer’s garden, which burns with zero-carbon emissions to dehydrate the farmer’s chosen produce, be it mangoes, guavas, pineapples or even cereals such as maize and sorghum.
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