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Competition to stimulate off-grid cold chain technology launched


CLASP and Energy 4 Impact collaborate to reduce food loss for African farmers with the support of Ideas to Impact and Power Africa. The new Global LEAP Off-Grid Cold Chain Challenge seeks to drive efficient cold chain technology and stimulate market development.

The Global LEAP Off-Grid Cold Chain Challenge (OGCCC) is an international competition to stimulate advances in cold chain technology markets with a £250,000 prize pool to develop an innovative and energy-efficient cold storage facility which can meet the cold storage requirements for fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products in select Sub-Saharan African countries.

Innovation prizes of up to £50,000 will be awarded to products that demonstrate energy efficiency, off-grid appropriateness, scalability and feasibility of deployment, with opportunities for further development and participation. Shortlisted technologies will receive an innovation prize of £10,000 to cover shipping and set-up costs. Nominations close 26 May 2018 with short-listed technologies announced in September 2018 for product testing and verification, and final prize winners revealed in March 2019.

In developing countries, extensive and reliable cold chain storage is often out of reach of the most vulnerable links in the chain – farmers and small traders – due to cost, uncoordinated stakeholders, and a lack of access to reliable electricity.

With the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations estimating that more than 40% of food losses occur during post-harvest and processing in developing countries, establishing reliable and extensive cold chains is crucial for food security and economic development. Establishing sustainable and energy-efficient cold chains would enable these countries to raise food supply by 15% – about 250 million tonnes.

Simon Collings, Energy Access Theme Lead at Ideas to Impact and Director of Learning and Innovation at Energy 4 Impact, says cold chain facilities would also create opportunities for labour and value-added processing for perishable products.

Lack of proper temperature management and cold storage causes farmers to suffer significant post-harvest food loss, leading to reduced profits and increased vulnerability. A commercially sustainable cold chain would allow farmers to diversify production to include high-value perishable crops, link them to regional and international markets, and increase earnings, 

he says.

Deployment of off- and weak-grid cold storage solutions is also likely to have other social impacts such as empowerment for women, and improvement in health.

Cold storage facilities can be an insulated pre-fabricated cold room, a brick-and-mortar cold room, or a modified shipping container with appropriate air-conditioning or refrigeration system, as long as they can provide cooling and refrigeration for storing produce or dairy products and are powered primarily using renewable energy sources.

The OGCCC has been developed in partnership with Energy 4 Impact, with the support of Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid initiative, and Ideas to Impact, a DfID-funded programme that uses innovation prizes to stimulate solutions to development challenges across energy access, climate change adaptation and water, sanitation and hygiene.

For more information, visit the Global Leap OGCCC web page.