Harvard Award Recognized ColdHubs

NIGERIA: A company that provides solar-powered cold rooms for perishable foods in Nigeria has won an award from Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

ColdHubs Ltd is the winner of the Roy Family Award for Environmental Partnership 2022, an award presented biennially by the Environment and Natural Resources Program of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. It celebrates an outstanding cross-sectoral partnership project that improves the quality of the environment through innovative and creative approaches.

The company was born out of a partnership between the Smallholders Foundation of Nigeria, the German institute for air treatment and refrigeration ILK Dresden and the German development agency GIZ

ColdHubs is a plug and play, modular, solar-powered cold room for 24/7 off-grid storage and preservation of perishable foods. They are set up in major markets and farms, with farmers paying a daily fee for each crate of food they store.

The cold room is made of 120 mm insulated cold room panels. The energy from the solar panels mounted on the roof of the cold room is stored in large capacity batteries.

In Nigeria, infrastructure issues such as lack of electrification and cold storage along the food supply chain, combined with the country’s hot climate, mean that an alarming 40% of food produced each year is lost before it even reaches consumers. According to the World Bank, this food loss is equivalent to 31% of Nigeria’s total land use and 5% of its greenhouse gas emissions. In a country where agriculture employs two-thirds of its workforce, many smallholder farmers in rural areas have to rush to sell their fresh produce in the morning before it spoils in the midday heat, or are forced to rely on expensive and polluting diesel. motorized refrigeration.

In 2021, the 54 operational units of ColdHubs would have saved 52,700 tonnes of product from spoilage. By reducing post-harvest losses, ColdHubs has also doubled the average household income of the 5,250 smallholder farmers, retailers and wholesalers it serves, from $60 to $120 per month. With the ability to store food safely for longer, farmers are able to negotiate better prices for a higher quality product, leading to additional income gains.

“ColdHubs provides a technical solution and a self-sustaining business model that could be replicated in different countries and regions to elevate thousands of other farmers,” said Henry Lee, director of the Environment and Natural Resources program at the Belfer Center. “Our panel of reviewers was particularly impressed with how the partnership has successfully transitioned from a non-profit collaboration to a commercial enterprise while maintaining its original mission.”

ColdHubs was selected from a collection of high-potential projects from around the world that are working to solve challenging environmental issues ranging from reducing human and environmental exposure to hazardous chemicals to decarbonizing the global transportation industry. maritime.

A committee of experts from Harvard and outside evaluated the candidates according to the following criteria: innovation, effectiveness, importance and transferability.

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