Cold chains manage the temperature of perishable goods from farm to table, maintaining quality and safety in the supply chain, reducing food loss and increasing food supplies.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that more than 40% of food losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels in developing countries. Setting up reliable and extensive cold chains for perishable foodstuffs, comparable to those in industrialized countries, would enable developing markets to increase food supply by about 15% (approximately equivalent to 250 million tonnes).
CLASP and Energy 4 Impact, a non-profit organization working with local businesses to extend access to energy in Africa to improve livelihoods and accelerate economic growth, have partnered to run the Global LEAP Off-Grid Cold Chain Challenge (OGCCC) which aims to stimulate use of off-grid energy and deploy cold chain infrastructure. OGCCC is a global competition that will identify and incentivize the most energy-efficient, sustainable and affordable off-grid cold chain technologies.
A complete cold chain involves multiple stakeholders, including farmers, aggregators, transportation companies, warehouses and processing centers. However, modern cold chain technology is often out of reach in off-grid areas in developing markets due its cost, a lack of access to electricity, and the wide variety of uncoordinated stakeholders in the broader cold chain. Building and strengthening cold chains therefore requires long-term, coordinated efforts from government, industry, academics, international development organizations and others.
Although establishing a complete cold chain in developing markets can be a long and challenging process, small-scale interventions targeting specific components of the process can address missing links and catalyze the completion of cold chains.
The Global LEAP OGCCC will launch in early 2018. OGCCC is a part of Ideas to Impact, a UK Department for International Development-funded initiative to catalyze innovation on significant environmental and developmental problems related to climate change, energy and water services. Ideas to Impact is an action-research program focused on designing, implementing and testing innovation prizes to help solve these intractable challenges. OGCCC is also supported by Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid initiative.