A virtual app for farmers to access cold chain facilities

cold chain

Your Virtual Cold-Chain Assistant application will provide small-scale farmers an affordable solution for cold-chain facility also preventing food loss.

India is one of the world’s largest food producers, yet almost 25-35 per cent of the food produced goes to waste due to lack of proper refrigeration and other supply chain bottlenecks and only 6 per cent of the food produced in India currently moves through the cold chain, compared to about 60 per cent in developed countries, According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

Currently, there are barriers that prevent farmers to access sustainable cooling solutions to save their produce. These include limited access to finance, high upfront investments costs for equipment, uncertainty related to new technologies, limited technical knowledge of cooling systems and hygrothermal sensor data, limited expertise in post-harvest storage practices, and in some cases – limited access to electricity.

To help overcome these challenges, Switzerland based  Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) and  Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy (BASE) have partnered up to create the ‘Your Virtual Cold-Chain Assistant’ mobile application. This application will enable small farmers in India to access relevant information and gain access to sustainable cooling facilities for their produce so that they gain more revenues and there is minimum food waste.

Data inputs

Your Virtual Cold-Chain Assistant app will use various data inputs such as weather and climate data, , fresh-produce yields, geographical location data, hygrothermal cold-storage sensor data, forecasted remaining shelf life of produce and real-time market prices. This will help farmers to make decisions on cool chain needs based on lifecycle benefits, rather than upfront costs. It will have access to easy-to-use information so that they can make optimal decisions on produce and farm management.

Thomas Motmans, Project Lead at BASE explains, “The project aims to break the negative cycle of poverty for smallholder farmers in India – while also improving food security, reducing food loss, minimising the impact of food production on the global climate, and increasing smallholder incomes by up to 30 per cent  per year.” This project complements BASE’s Cooling as a Service Initiative.

Some of the app features are:

  • An optimal cold-chain facility and maintenance contract, given their resources and yield, financed through a servitisation business model; it can scale with the growth of their business.
  • Instructions guiding farmers on when to sell their produce to have highest market value and minimise waste.
  • Real-time instructions on how to control storage of products to have the least food loss and energy use.

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