In a tropical country like Nigeria, temperatures are often on the higher side of the scale. The shelf life of the farm products is limited to mere days after the harvest. It means there are only a handful of days in which to sell the entire produce profitably. The alternative of whatever remains going wasted stares at the hard-working farmers. It also decreases the profit marginally and often pushes them into debt cycles.
The ColdHubs, a Nigerian- start-up, came up with an innovative facility that allows farmers to keep their produce fresh for longer periods in temperature-controlled conditions in the local markets near them. These cold hubs operate on solar power which makes them economically affordable and sustainable in the long run. In a nation such as Nigeria, solar energy is the most abundant and accessible of harvestable natural energy resources.
“ColdHubs is a “plug and play” modular, solar-powered walk-in cold room, for 24/7 off-grid storage and preservation of perishable foods. It adequately addresses the problem of post-harvest losses in fruits, vegetables and other perishable food. Installed in major food production and consumption centres, it allows farmers to place their produce in clean plastic crates in stacks inside the cold room. This extends the freshness of fruits, vegetables and other perishable food from 2 days to about 21 days. The solar-powered walk-in cold room is made of 120mm insulating cold room panels to maintain temperature. Energy from solar panels mounted on the roof-tops of the cold rooms is stored in high capacity batteries and fed into inverters which in turn runs the refrigerating unit.”
The cold hubs, simplistically named after their purpose, helps traders in the market make more money. Double hubs, such as the one opened in May 2021 at the Mile 12 International Market in Lagos State, can store upto 6 tons of food a day. These hubs help make the Nigerian food industry more profitable and create a better environment by putting an end to losses due to spoilage, usually encountered by traders in the market.
The cold hubs get into contractual deals with local markets to set up cold rooms. The relationship is more of a partnership that will yield positive results for both parties. Coldhubs offers farmers a flexible pay-as-you-store subscription model. They pay a daily flat fee for each crate of food they store and can utilize the facilities in the markets to ensure higher quality and better earnings for their produce.
Mr Nnaemeka C. Ikegwuonu, CEO and founder of ColdHubs is a farmer, innovator, and leading social entrepreneur.