Image copyright ColdHubs Image caption Ekene Okonkwo, the CEO of ColdHubs, with his Nigeria-made fridge
As the effects of climate change hit the staple food crops of sub-Saharan Africa, keeping food fresh could prove the key to preventing famine.
However, that has not stopped a Nigerian firm building a cold store to save farmers across sub-Saharan Africa from feeding their families.
The store is called ColdHubs and it is becoming popular in Nigeria and other West African countries.
With solar power, it has the ability to be transported to remote areas and stored in remote locations.
With the prices of essential food items soaring – according to the UN World Food Programme, the price of wheat has doubled in the past 10 years – keeping food in cold storage is becoming more and more important.
“When we built the fridge, we didn’t know what impact it would have, whether it would help farmers. What we have discovered is that it has helped farmers and is helping them to increase yields,” says Ekene Okonkwo, the co-founder of ColdHubs.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, food loss in sub-Saharan Africa amounts to $12bn (£9.7bn) per year, or 8% of global food production.
The reality of the situation is that commercial refrigeration equipment is almost impossible to find, and is not available in a wide variety of areas, particularly those that are not far from urban centres.
ColdHubs solves that problem. By assembling modern refrigerators made from locally available materials, they make transport and storage just as easy.
Image copyright Reuters Image caption In the past, farmers had to travel long distances to buy refrigerated transport
The cold store also takes weight as a factor in the calculation of its energy costs. By making the cold store lighter, they can make the cost of fuel more competitive.
The goal is to make the most cost-effective products while ensuring that farmers can get the right product at the right time. The ColdHubs store is around 10 metres by 12 metres, meaning it could easily fit on to the truck used to transport food from villages to farmers’ plots.
With a simple induction cook top, the refrigerator can cool up to 42 degrees Celsius while it is running and 30 degrees while it is not.
Who has used it?
One of ColdHubs’ beneficiaries is Mr Okonkwo’s family. He has stored his harvest of yams, which he hopes to feed his daughter and grandchildren, and now his entire family and his church.
He adds: “It’s cheaper than the commercial ones; the temperature control is just beautiful. You can’t find it everywhere, or at the right level of precision in commercial units.”