Rovolutionary African-made Cooling Units Could Stop Tonnes of Food Loss

John Mbindyo was buying groceries at his local store in Nairobi, when the 28-year-old IT graduate asked that question of his vendor. The store manager said, depending on the amount of stock, the goods last about two to three days. And then, he added: “I wish we had fridges to keep them cool.”

And so was born the idea for FreshBox, a solar-powered, walk-in cold room that provides retailers with storage facilities to preserve perishable products. Operating for five months, the project offers vendors and farmers refrigeration services for 70 Kenyan shillings ($0.68) a crate per day. “It hit me,” Mbindyo says. “There’s demand. This is possible. Why not try it out?”

Throughout the world, food waste and spoilage is a significant problem facing supply chains from farm to fork. The Rockefeller Foundation says one-third of all the food that is produced is never consumed—a staggering loss that would have fed the nearly 800 million people who are food insecure of undernourished worldwide.

The crisis is even more acute across Africa, a continent where the majority of people derive their livelihood from agriculture. Currently, more than 20 million people in northeast Nigeria, South Sudan, and Somalia are facing starvation. Yet, half of all the staple food in the continent is lost in the post-harvest stage or before they hit the market.

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