Most farm produce are perishable, which means for maximum profits, farmers need ready access to markets. However, that is seldom the case, leading to produce going bad and farmers incurring losses. Well, a Nigerian startup ColdHubs has come up with an innovative solution for farmers.
ColdHubs runs 100% solar-powered cold rooms and avails them to farmers on a walk-in package. Thereby enabling farmers and vendors to store their agricultural produce and be able to sell them at the most opportune season.
The startup was founded by Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu in July 2015 as a social enterprise out to alleviate some of the problems facing farmers. Ikegwuonu is himself a farmer and is well familiar with problems faced by farmers in Nigeria.
ColdHubs cold rooms extend the shelf life of farm produces like fruits, vegetables, and other perishable foods from two days to as much as three weeks. This year has particularly been a good run for the startup. It has won several awards including the MIT Solve Initiative and the Microsoft Airband Grant Fund.
The relatively simple yet innovative technology in ColdHubs’ cold rooms
The cold rooms are made up of 120mm thick insulating materials covering. This material helps maintain the temperature with relatively less energy consumption. They use solar panel mounted on the roof to run the refrigeration.
At night, the monoblock refrigerators use power from inverters that convert the DC power stored in batteries to keep the fridge running. Each block of a fridge can store up to three tonnes of perishable farm produce.
During an interview with a section of the media, Ikegwuonu said, “Each ColdHub is guaranteed to provide autonomous refrigeration 24 hours a day without grid connection. The cooling temperature is adjustable from five to 15 degrees Celsius, and the cold room’s unique safety door efficiently keeps cold air inside.”
Before the cold rooms by ColdHubs, farmers incurred a lot of wastage and loss should their produce fail to find buyers quickly since they are highly perishable. That is why ColdHubs hit the ground running since farmers and merchants quickly accepted their cold rooms. The five cold rooms currently operated by the startups reached 100% capacity utilization in August 2017.
“We have six more ColdHubs coming online before the end of the year and up to 20 more next year. We are operating in Nigeria and plan expansion across the country, and into East and Southern Africa.”
To use the cold rooms, ColdHubs charges $0.50 for a crate per day.