Installing solar-powered refrigerators in creating countries can lower hunger and also slow climate modification

Jan 20, 2023 10:11 AM ET
  • Food loss as well as waste are major problems worldwide. When food is discarded or permitted to spoil, it makes economies less effective and also leaves people hungry.
Installing solar-powered refrigerators in creating countries can lower hunger and also slow climate modification
Image: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

It also harms Earth's climate by producing methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Food loss and also waste represent 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter on the planet, ahead of India as well as behind just China as well as the United State

Worldwide, 1.3 billion tons of food are lost or lost each year. Earth's populace is forecasted to enhance from 8 billion today to roughly 10 billion by 2050. Feeding that many individuals will call for countries to increase agricultural manufacturing by greater than 70% and lower food loss and waste.

Expanding food cold chains to the globe's least-developed countries can have enormous influences. However it additionally increases problems if it's not done in a way that stays clear of contributing to climate modification.

Existing refrigeration systems release hydrochlorofluorocarbons, or HCFCs, as well as hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which are exceptionally powerful greenhouse gases. Producing electrical energy with fossil fuels to power these systems likewise intensifies climate modification. For these reasons, exporting typical cold chains to establishing countries is not environmentally as well as socially sustainable.

Instead, creating countries require cold chains that operate on renewable energy and use different cooling agents with lower climate impacts. As a scholar focusing on sustainable advancement, green development and climate modification, I believe that expanding cold chains in the creating globe-- particularly sub-Saharan Africa-- will not just profit the environment yet also give essential social benefits, such as equipping women.

Spoilage and also contamination

To comprehend why cold chains are so vital, think about just how food travels from the farm to your table. First it is harvested and also shipped to a wholesaler. Then it may go straight to stores, or to a food processing company to be cooked, frozen or tinned. At each stage it may sit for durations lasting hours to days. If it is not held at a secure temperature, the food may spoil or come to be contaminated with microorganisms that cause foodborne illnesses.

In 2021, over 700 million people were hungry worldwide-- 425 million in Asia, 278 million in Africa and 57 million in the Caribbean and also Latin America. Numerous countries in these regions have very little cold storage capacity to keep food from spoiling prior to it can be eaten.

Seafood, meat, milk and also vegetables are extremely dependent on cold food chains. Countries primarily in the developing world shed 23% of their perishable items prior to they reach markets.

Loss of cereal crops, which likewise gain from cold storage, are equally astonishing. For instance, Ethiopia sheds about one-third of its stored corn after five weeks as a result of lack of correct storage space In 2019, India's Ministry of Food Processing Industries estimated that the country had actually lost or thrown away 56 million lots of food, worth regarding US$ 10 billion, primarily because of absence of cold store.

Poor postharvest management can lead to plant contamination as well as parasite infestation. In Uganda, where most corn is grown by small farmers that do not have appropriate centers to completely dry and also shop it, contamination with fungi that generate hazardous substances called aflatoxin has been a significant human and also animal wellness problem.

Social take advantage of cold storage.

Almost 150 countries have actually embraced the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. This measure, worked out in 2016, is driving changes in the cooling power field by requiring nations to phase down use HFCs.

The global cold chain market is worth $160 billion today as well as is predicted to reach $585 billion by 2026. Solar-powered cold store is a niche market today, however is positioned for growth.

In addition to reducing food loss and waste, increasing incomes, curbing land degradation as well as minimizing greenhouse emissions, sustainable cold store offers wonderful benefits for women, that produce 60% to 80% of crops and also are in charge of postharvest tasks in many creating countries.

Research study in climate finance shows that women may be disproportionately burdened by hardship due to the fact that they have less gain access to than men to assets and funds in numerous countries. Nevertheless, given that women play key roles in farming and taking care of food materials, they are placed to participate in the food cold chain service in remote and backwoods if the global community gives financial and also technological assistance, thus enhancing their economic status and also livelihoods.

Pilot projects show promise

I see sub-Saharan Africa as a perfect prospect for the introduction of food cold chains, for a number of reasons. First, most of its food loss as well as waste happens during harvest and also postharvest stages. Installing sustainable cold chain systems at these stages can considerably minimize losses at an early point.

Second, much of the region does not have food cold chains. Investing right here offers the chance to bypass standard systems and leapfrog straight to sustainable designs.

In my view, a bottom-up strategy starting at the farm level is one of the most viable approach. Significantly, dairy farmers in Uganda are arranged right into cooperatives, which have bought cold chain storage space. This made them much more resilient to commercial disruptions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic than various other sectors, such as fish and also vegetables, which suffered heavy losses when producers can not obtain their items to markets.

Nigeria has the highest yearly food loss as well as waste rate in Africa-- 415 extra pounds (190 kilograms) per capita. In northern Nigeria, a six-month pilot project that installed solar-powered freezer for seven tiny fruit and vegetable markets maintained the quality of the goods and also enabled the markets to charge higher prices.

These systems created approximated net profits of about $8,000 per year per market. Also at a 7% annual interest rate, such a system might redeem its $40,000 capital cost within a decade.

Access to electrical power is as low as 55% in some parts of Nigeria, and a lot of its power originates from gas as well as oil. Renewable-powered cold store offers a cleaner alternative.

Other experiments have generated similar results in northwest Kenya as well as in Indonesia's Wakatobi islands, where 78% of the population relies on fish as a staple food. Solar-powered cold storage facilities aided these areas conserve money and also minimize waste.

To promote efficient as well as climate-friendly cooling, including air conditioning as well as refrigeration, the United Nations Environmental Program has actually organized a Global Cool Coalition that consists of cities, countries, organizations and worldwide organizations. I see this partnership as a method to make progress on both sustainable development and climate modification. In my view, investing in renewable-powered cold chains in the world's least-developed countries will assist spur green development, protect nature and feed the globe's hungry people.

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