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ColdHubs; solar-powered cold rooms to store and preserve, fresh fruits and vegetables.

To eliminate food spoilage and have more safe, hygienic and nutritious food available for Nigerians.

Photo of Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

ColdHubs Limited

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

we are not part of any multi-stakeholder entity.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

http://www.coldhubs.com

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Owerri, Imo State

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Nigeria

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Our vision is for the 20 local government areas of Lagos State, Nigeria an area covering a landmass of 1,171 km2.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Nigeria.

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

When we were conceptualizing ColdHubs, in 2013 we saw an incredible need for food storage in the large outdoor markets within Lagos, considering its unique position as Nigeria’s most urbanized and populated state. We targeted Lagos Mile 12 Market, being the largest fruits and vegetables market in the state as our priority market to launch our technology and service.

Unfortunately, this was not achieved, when the raised the funding to launch in 2015 due to the difficulty in securing land within the very densely populated market. We spent 9 months searching and negotiating for land within Mile 12 Market and other markets in Lagos, all to no avail.

Frustrated on our inability to launch in Lagos, we moved back to our state, Imo State and launched our first commercial ColdHubs at Relief Market, Owerri in December 2016. Since then we have scaled to other markets and farm clusters across Nigeria, keeping a very close eye to developments within all the markets we are targeting in Lagos which includes - Mile 12 Market, Ketu; Fruits and Vegetables Market, Ikotun; Ile Epo Market, Abule Egba; Oyigbo Market; Oshodi market among others, which supplies the daily fresh fruits and vegetables needs of 22 million Lagosians.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Lagos State, the economic and commercial capital of Nigeria was created on May 27, 1967, by virtue of States [Creation and Transitional Provisions] Decree No. 14 of 1967 which restructured Nigeria’s Federation into 12 States. Prior to this, Lagos Municipality was administered as a Federal Territory by the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Lagos Affairs as the regional authority, while the Lagos City Council governed the City of Lagos.

It is the smallest state in Nigeria, yet it has the highest urban population, the population of Lagos according to the Lagos State Government was 17.5 million, in 2000. This number is disputed by the National Population Commission of Nigeria. The latest 2015 reports estimate the population at 24.6 million, making Lagos the largest city in Africa. The State population is expected to hit the 35 million mark in 2020.

The Lagos Gross Domestic Product [GDP] accounted for 26.7% of Nigeria’s total GDP and more than 50% of non-oil GDP. Over 50% of Nigeria’s non-oil industrial capacity is in Lagos. Regionally, her Gross National Product [GNP] is three times that of any West African Country, thus making it ECOWAS economic hub and the springboard for innovation and development in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa.

It is essentially a Yoruba environment inhabited by its sub-nationality of Aworis and Ogus in Ikeja and Badagry Divisions respectively, with the Ogus being found mainly in Badagry and the Awori forming the indigenous population of Lagos. Nevertheless, other pioneer immigrant settlers – Edos, Saros, Brazilians, Kannike/Tapa, etc collectively called Lagosians but more appropriately referred to as the Ekos. However, despite its Yoruba indigeneity, the State is a global socio-cultural melting pot attracting Nigerians, Africans and foreigners alike. The situation is attributable to its sound economic base, strategic maritime location and socio-political importance which induced a high rate of migration to the State.

As essentially a Yoruba environment, Lagosians eats most Yoruba foods, usually a blend of different colored food elements. These include a combination of gbegiri, ewedu, and stew; with assorted meat served with eba or pounded yam.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

1171

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

25000000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

In Lagos, Nigeria, approximately 50 percent of all horticultural products are lost or wasted before reaching the consumer – intensifying poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. Reducing post-harvest loss is critical to improve the livelihoods, nutrition, and resiliency of Lagosians. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) estimates that a 10 percent reduction in global food loss could result in an 11 percent decrease in hunger and a 4 percent decrease in child malnutrition worldwide. In Lagos, a 35 percent reduction in post-harvest tomato loss alone would create a supply of vitamin A for up 1.1 million children per day.

The high rate of postharvest loss in the city-state is due to a combination of factors, including lack of affordable cold storage at key points within the food supply chain, capable of working with unreliable electricity.

Humidity, ambient temperatures, and poor handling causes fruit and vegetable to spoil. Cooling significantly extends the shelf-life of crops because natural decay processes are slowed down if products are stored at cool temperatures. With adequate refrigeration the shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables can be extended from 2 days to 21 days, drastically reducing the share of food which can be sold before they decay and making more nutritious food available for Lagosians.

Unfortunately, there are no cooling facilities at any of the outdoor markets in Lagos, where fresh fruits, vegetables, and other perishable food are sold to consumers by wholesalers, retailers and smallholder farmers. Across Lagos markets, Consumers are forced to buy spoilt food whose nutrients have already been lost, at very low prices and the vendors are forced to sell off food before it spoils, to avoid complete financial loss.

Besides economic losses, production inputs such as fertilizers, irrigation, and pesticides are wasted if they are used to produce crops which cannot be sold. This unnecessarily inflates the environmental load of food production, leading to consequences such as decreasing soil quality, biodiversity loss, and drought.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Our vision is ColdHubs. These are 100% solar-powered walk-in cold rooms to be installed in fresh fruits and vegetables markets across Lagos State, for smallholder farmers, retailers and wholesalers, to store and preserve their fresh fruits, vegetables and other perishable foods 24/7, extending their shelf life from 2 days to 21 days and for consumers the opportunity of having safe, hygienic and nutritious food available for purchase.

Each ColdHub is made up of:

Cold room: a 30 feet length, 20 feet width, and 7 feet height, 120mm insulated cold room panel with floor made of stainless steel.  This contains approximately 10 tons of perishable food arranged in 150 units, 20kg stackable plastic crates.

Refrigeration unit: a high fluorocarbon (HFC) free and energy-efficient monoblock refrigeration unit for 24/7 autonomous refrigeration, using 658 watts of energy per hour and specially designed for off-grid use.  The temperature is adjustable from -5 to +15° Celsius.

Solar power:  provided by rooftop solar panels generating approximately 5.5kw/h, connected to a set of deep-cycle, long-lasting batteries, off-grid and on-grid inverters. The power generated, is enough to run the hubs on all weather conditions.

Advanced Remote Monitoring System: state-of-the-art remote monitoring system which collects data on daily ambient temperature, solar irradiation, battery state of charge, cold room cooling temperature and cold room number of door openings and store the data in cloud.

Aside from the technology we also offer:

Education: We educate farmers, retailers and wholesalers on best practices for the postharvest handling of fruits and vegetables including sorting, grading, packing (using returnable plastic crates), on-farm cooling, and packing houses, as well as best practices in transportation, storage, and preservation.  This education is provided over 5 days, using local language comic books.

Service: In addition to deploying the technology and education, we operate a simple pay-as-you-store model.  Farmers and retailers pay 100 Nigerian Naira (equivalent of US$0.50) to store one 20 kg crate per day. Hubs are operated by a Hub Operator, who monitors the loading and unloading of crates, collects the fees, and a Market Attendant who builds customer relationships in farm clusters and markets.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

First, ColdHubs eliminates cooling induced food spoilage completely. This is because the hubs are strategically designed for installation in outdoor markets, where buying and selling of perishable food are undertaken, the hub provides continuous power supply, cooling and storage for un-sold and evening left-over fruits, vegetables, and other perishable food for more than 21 days. It acts like a warehouse, providing Lagos farmers, retailers and wholesalers an incredible opportunity to store their products for a long period of time, haggle on prices and sell later when prices increase.

As a temperature-controlled cold chamber; ColdHubs increases food quality and food safety by reducing exposure to harsh direct sunlight, chemical contamination, bacterial or parasitic contamination, and mycotoxin contamination, thus eliminating rapid rotting. It offers Lagos consumers of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other perishable food, the opportunity of having safe, hygienic and nutritious food available for consumption.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Our vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for Lagos and 25 million Lagosians, is to reduce the loss of food that is already produced. When food is grown and sold at an economic loss, the resources that went into production also experience a loss. By addressing food loss through cold storage, ColdHubs enables farmers to earn more without increasing production and consumers to have more quality, safe and nutritious food available for consumption.

To drive our vision, we are proposing to install, commission and operate 3 ColdHubs (with dimensions 30 feet in length, 20 feet in width and 7 feet in height) each holding and cooling down 10 tons of food per day, in 3 of the largest fresh fruits and vegetables outdoor markets in Lagos. The targeted markets are:

  • Mile 12 International Food Market, Ketu, Lagos, Nigeria.
  • Ikosi Ketu Fruits Market; Ikosi Ketu, Lagos Nigeria.
  • Aguda Market, Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria.

These three outdoor markets, supply and covers the daily fresh fruits, vegetables and other perishable food needs of the estimated 25 million people in Lagos.

In the first year, ColdHubs will accomplish the following:

3 new ColdHubs installed and commissioned, within the largest food consumption centers of Lagos, Nigeria to serve 1,500 smallholder farmers, retailers, and wholesalers representing 500 users, per Hub.

The 3 Hubs will save at least 10,950 tons of food from spoilage per annum, representing 30 tons of food saved per day. This is 10 tons of food saved per day, per Hub.

The 3 Hubs will provide Lagosians with at least 30 tons of high quality, fresh, safe, hygienic and nutritious food available every day.

Increase the income of 1,500 users by 50%, providing US$60 additional income on the present estimated income of US$60, to a total of US$120 per month

Create 9 new jobs for women, by recruiting and training them as Hub Operators and Market Attendants in each new site. The Hub Operators oversees the loading and unloading of food and collects the user fee, while the Market Managers provides education on the technology and service and on-boards customers daily.

Environment: ColdHubs reduces the environmental cost of producing food, which cannot be sold due to spoilage. Aside from that, it demonstrates a 100% green cooling solution. Refrigeration and air conditioning are responsible for a significant share of global greenhouse gas emissions. In developing countries and emerging economies, the demand for cooling equipment is rising and so does its demand for energy on the increase. It maximizes energy efficiency through the use of solar in its power generation and uses natural refrigerants (R290), thereby minimizing the environmental impact of cooling.

Diets: ColdHubs, provides an opportunity for a nutritious diet for consumers. Food stored inside the ColdHubs are of high quality and are safe because there has not been any direct exposure to harsh direct sunlight, chemical contamination, bacterial or parasitic contamination, and mycotoxin contamination.

Economics: With ColdHubs, consumers will not be forced to buy spoilt food whose nutrients have already been lost, at very low prices and the vendors will not be forced to sell off food before it spoils, to avoid complete financial loss. It is an economic win and win for consumers who are seeking to pay a little bit for high-quality food and vendors who are seeking to increase their income.

Culture: ColdHubs is an infrastructure that supports efficient supply chain and makes safe, nutritious food available in our outdoor markets. These markets are critical to the knowledge, attitude, practices, and beliefs of the Lagosians because it is where they purchase their food.

In spite of recent developments, of packaged food in departmental stores and supermarkets, most Lagosians just like every Nigerian and Africa still buys their daily food supplies from these markets, a cultural norm that enable people to see their food; feel their food; touch their food; perceive the aroma of their food, before deciding to purchase the food, a tradition which connects us to our food.

Technology: ColdHubs demonstrates the use of clean technology in the form of solar power generators and energy stored in batteries to make high-quality food available, therefore eliminating food insecurity.

Policy: Smallholder farmers require sustainable practices and technologies to increase agricultural productivity. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that by 2050, food production levels must rise by 170% to accommodate a forecasted 130% increase in the global population. ColdHubs demonstrates a viable technology to reduce food spoilage for policymakers to leverage around promoting ease of business operations, stimulating market growth, recognizing and rewarding quality and partnering with the private sector.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Team (2)

Nnaemeka's profile
Bright's profile
Bright Igbokwe

Role added on team:

"Bright Benjamin Igbokwe – (COO, ColdHubs) Bright, is an experienced business development manager with extensive expertise in agribusiness startups, rural logistics, distribution, commercial strategy, contract negotiations, business processes, and team building. He holds an MBA from Imo State University, Nigeria. As COO, he establishes and maintains control of the entire company structure and operating systems to ensure the achievement of strategic objectives."

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