In 2017, sweeping droughts in East Africa severely harmed farmers like Leah, who lives in Mogotio, Kenya. Her two cows barely produced enough milk for the family to drink, much less store or sell. Her story is not uncommon – 80% of small-scale farmers in her region produce little during dry seasons.
Even when milk is plentiful, smallholder farmers rarely have access to proper refrigeration storage technologies, with just 1% of the rural population owning refrigerators. Improved access to energy-efficient, off-grid appropriate refrigeration can immediately and significantly improve the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers, fishers, and others.
Refrigeration technology helps fresh foods last longer, allows families—especially women— to spend less time gathering food, and extends the viability of life-saving medicines and vaccines. Through her cooperative of about 2500 dairy farmers, Leah applied for a loan to purchase a subsidized, solar-powered household fridge. Among the first in her community to buy an M-kopa solar home system, Leah then became an agent for M-kopa. Now Leah works for Green Light Planet, another distributed energy services company, bringing affordable, clean energy to her community in the form of solar lanterns and solar home systems – 80 households last year alone.
The market for appropriate off-grid refrigeration is still nascent, and more work is needed to make refrigerators more efficient, transportable, and affordable for farmers like Leah. CLASP is supporting several projects related to appropriate off-grid refrigeration and the agricultural cold chain.
- In partnership with Energy for Impact, CLASP launched the Global LEAP Off-Grid Cold Chain Challenge, as part of the UK aid-funded Ideas to Impact Initiative to catalyze innovation and investment in cold storage technology used to transfer dairy or produce from farms to markets.
- The Global LEAP Off-Grid Procurement Incentives Program received three confirmed orders to deploy 1,025 highly energy-efficient, off-grid appropriate refrigerators from companies operating in East Africa. These orders represent some of the world’s first large-scale, off-grid refrigerator procurement.
- The Field Testing phase of the 2016-17 Global LEAP Awards Off-Grid Refrigerator Competition will kick-off in Uganda on May 21st. Distinct from the laboratory testing phase, this round of product testing will show the impact of appropriate off-grid refrigeration for actual consumers.
- On 28-29 May, Efficiency for Access is hosting an Off-grid Refrigerator Round Table workshop that brings together product designers and distributors, technology and cold chain experts, and other leaders in the bourgeoning market to discuss consumer, market, and technology issues. For more information about the round table in Amsterdam, please contact: [email protected].