Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu’s social enterprise built solar-powered cold rooms for farmers’ produce, tackling the long-standing problem of wastage. According to the World Bank, 40% of the food produced in Nigeria is lost.
The radio journalist, farmer and social entrepreneur was presenting a broadcast from the city of Jos about cabbage, when he realised how much food farmers wasted, because it was spoiled. Growing up on a farm in southern Nigeria, Ikegwuonu had already seen smallholders rushing to sell their fruit and vegetables before sunset, i.e. before it spoiled. The produce rapidly devalues, both financially and nutritionally, trapping farmers in a cycle of poverty.
Ikegwuonu’s solution is a solar-powered cold room called ColdHub, where three tons of perishable foods are preserved for three weeks instead of the previous two days. Farmers and traders rent 20 kilo plastic boxes in cold rooms for 100 Nigerian naires (€0.21) per day.
Ikegwuonu explains that the design of the cold rooms emphasized the use of solar energy for continuous use. During the day, the roof panels collect energy and the surplus is stored in batteries, which keep the rooms cold even at night.
There are currently 54 cold stores in operation in two states in Nigeria. Ikegwuonu plans to double the number of rooms in 2022. Ikegwuonu’s mission is to supply cold storage facilities to key locations in the food supply chain.
Ikegwuonu created the social enterprise ColdHubs Ltd. In 2003, he set up the Smallholders Foundation [PDF], which provides radio broadcasts for the countryside. The radio station has more than 250,000 listeners daily.
Viileitä ratkaisuja Nigerian ruokahävikkiongelmaan (Cool solutions to Nigeria’s food waste problem), Kansen Uutiset, 2022-01-07