A competition to catalyze off-grid cold chain
technology innovation and market development
Modern cold chain technology is essential to the agricultural sector. 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.
Cold chains have the potential to significantly improve livelihoods for smallholder farmers. 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.
The Global LEAP Off-Grid Cold Chain Challenge (OGCCC) is an international competition to identify and promote the most energy-efficient, sustainable and cost-effective technologies that can meet the cold storage requirements for fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products in the following countries: Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
The Challenge was developed in partnership with Energy 4 Impact and support from the UK Department for International Development through the Ideas to Impact Programme to stimulate off-grid cold chain refrigeration for farmers and small traders, enabling better commercialisation of agricultural produce.
By supporting the development of innovative cold chain solutions that run off clean energy, the Off-Grid Cold Chain Challenge will catalyse technology innovation and market development.
Innovation prizes will be awarded to products that demonstrate innovation in energy efficiency, off-grid appropriateness, scalability and feasibility of deployment. A category will be eliminated if there is not more than one nominee and prize money distributed between the other categories.
Benefits to Winners and Finalists
Global LEAP Off-Grid Cold Chain Challenge Winners and Finalists benefit in the following ways:
- Shortlisted technologies will receive a cash prize of £10,000 to cover shipping and set-up costs in an eligible country. Four category winners will receive innovation prizes of £37,500.
- Attraction of further investment or development for piloting, replication and scaling, with franchise development for larger technology manufacturers.
- Opportunity to participate in donor initiatives and programmes dedicated to cold chains in developing countries.
- Use of the Global LEAP Awards logo and brand.
- All shortlisted technologies will be promoted in a global campaign, which will include publicity and networking opportunities with distributers and investors.
The Off-Grid Cold Chain Market
Cold storage facilities applicable for the competition 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 the technologies can provide cooling and refrigeration for storing produce or dairy products and is powered primarily using renewable energy sources.
Cold chains manage the temperature of perishable products from farm to table and play a critical role in developing countries, where food losses for farmers during post-harvest and processing can be as high as 40%. However, currently available cold storage technologies are too expensive for many individual farmers. They also run off unreliable electricity supplies, which are often backed up by diesel generators.
Agricultural cold chains are crucial to developing local and international markets and improving economic outcomes of agriculture-based economies. Establishing cold chains as extensive and reliable as those in industrialised countries would enable developing countries to raise food supply by 15% – about 250 million tonnes.
The main players in the cold chain market are: farmers and farmer groups; exporter aggregators that deal in higher-value produce; aggregators that supply local bulk purchasers like supermarkets; more informal produce brokers that supply local markets; and farmer cooperatives that seek to give farmers greater bargaining power and information. In some instances, farmers supplying aggregators take their produce to temporary holding sheds at collection points.
Cold rooms at a pilot in Kenya are demonstrating success by delaying ripening and enabling the fruit to stay fresh for up to three weeks, which enables farmers to harvest and store more produce until they can confirm a buyer or aggregate produce from different farmers to attract buyers requiring huge volumes. This not only stops crop loss at the farmer level and during transport, but has created efficiencies in transportation costs because farmers can store produce for longer so that trucks are deployed less often for pick up.
Manufacturers who enter the off-grid market early and deliver high-quality, efficient products, will shape this market and position themselves for success for years to come.
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.
OGCCC is implemented in partnership with 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.