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The Cooler Box

Refrigerated storage facilities for perishable goods

Photo of Tanya Tagwireyi
4 1

Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Shumba Holdings LTD

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.


Website of Legally Registered Entity


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

  • Just beginning now

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


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United Kingdom

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

Mbare is a high density suburb in Harare covers and area of 50 km². Harare is the capital of Zimbabwe and covers an area of 960,6 km².

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

This is my country and city of origin, the location is important to me as i i have experienced it in different ways as a supplier, buyer and consumer and understand the realities deeply. 

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.

Mbare has Mbare Musika, the largest farm produce market in Zimbabwe. Farmers deliver their fresh crops every morning and some travel from far away places like Mutare, Masvingo and Kariba to sell their produce. This area has fallen into disrepair in recent years.

There are other market places in Mbare, including Mupedza Nhamo (a Shona word loosely translated as "The finisher of quandaries"). This is a market for cheap clothing, with shirts available for as little as $1 U.S, or second-hand shoes for $5 US. This market is frequented by people from Mbare and the surrounding area but has become a popular shopping location for middle class hipsters. Another market is Magaba (loosely translated to mean "tins"), a market place for metal goods and other craftsmanship. This is a hub for budding entrepreneurs and artists, making products such as cooking pots, cups, bathing basins and carpentry work such as tables, beds, chairs, display cabinets and coffins. These provide a livelihood for a substantial portion of the population of Mbare.

Mbare's most famous attraction is the Curio Market, the largest market for traditional artwork, including soapstone sculpture and Mbira instruments. The town also has large food and vegetable markets.

Through the central bus station Mbare Musika is linked to all major roads, and is the Hub linking buses to all different destinations in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries. Trade and transport are the pillars of economy in Mbare.

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


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


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

To feed a growing population with changing dietary preferences, agricultural land is projected to expand globally in the next decade to match the increase in food demand, but at a diminishing rate. A substantial increase in competition for scarce land is expected in the coming decades.

World population is expected to increase from 7 billion today to over 9 billion in 2050. A growing population is likely to increase pressures on the natural resources that supply energy and food.

World GDP is projected to almost quadruple by 2050, despite the recent recession.
Average GDP growth rates are projected to slow gradually in the coming decades in China and India. While Africa will remain the poorest continent, it is projected to see the world’s highest economic growth rate between 2030 and 2050.

Cities are likely to absorb the total world population growth between 2010 and 2050. By 2050, nearly 70% of the world population is projected to be living in urban areas.

Research indicates sub-Saharan Africa losses of 0.5–35 percent of post-harvest food losses. The high  level of food losses in the region is not surprising given the highly perishable nature of fruits and  vegetables, which can spoil, often within hours, in the absence of adequate storage facilities. The use  of the most adequate type of storage can effectively prevent losses.

Inadequate storage conditions (e.g. insufficient disinfection, refrigeration and packaging) may cause  significant losses, and the earlier quality of a product and previous decisions in the supply chain may  lead to a shorter shelf life even under the best storage conditions. Certain climatic conditions,  especially heat and moisture, tend to promote biological deterioration (for example, attacks from  bacteria, fungi or insects), especially without proper storage and transportation structures to control  temperature and humidity. Therefore, adequate cold storage (including, for example, freezing fish,  meat and horticulture produce) is crucial to prevent food losses and preserve quality at each step of  the food supply chain.

Fruits and vegetables are highly perishable; once harvested, they need to be handled using  appropriate practices to maintain their quality. Transport is a critical loss point in the supply chains of  fruits and vegetables, owing largely to inadequate use of bulk packaging and poor temperature and  relative humidity management. Quality loss resulting from mechanical damage – evidenced by  bruising, distortion in the shape of produce, cracking and punctures – leads to discoloration,  accelerated ripening, weight loss due to increased transpiration and accelerated decay; these factors,  in turn, bring about economic losses.

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

Ambassador Josefa Sacko, the African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, announced “The Continental Post Harvest Loss Management Strategy.” The Strategy details a suite of innovations in policies, technology, market infrastructure, capacity building, and investment needed to achieve a target for halving post-harvest losses in Africa by 2025. As the first-ever post-harvest loss strategy for the continent, it is a landmark for Africa and the Union’s 55 member states. “For grains alone, the value of post-harvest losses in Africa are estimated to equal $4 billion per year, an amount that could help feed 48 million people,” said Sacko. “Tackling food loss is critical to Africa. Hence it is time for us to take action, and our new strategy is the foundation for that action.”

“In the coming year, the world needs to increase its financial investment in reducing the amount of food in Africa and Asia that is lost before hitting the market. At the other end of the food chain, governments and companies should focus on helping reduce consumer and household-level waste. If we can tackle both ends of the food chain, we stand a great chance of halving food loss and waste by 2030,” said Liz Goodwin, Senior Fellow and Director, Food Loss and Waste at World Resources Institute.

Provide storage facilities for agricultural produce in local and urban market places.
1. Undertake research and development of food losses within agricultural supply  
2. Provide cold storage facilities for urban markets to reduce food waste and increase  
shelf life of produce in-turn the potential for higher profits.
3. Install one storage system unit in an urban market to pilot the idea.
4. This will require collaboration between stakeholders of the local market which
 includes, city council, vendors, wholesalers and farmers etc.  
5. Use of the storage system on a day to day basis reducing food waste and providing  
stakeholders with a safe reliable place to store their products.
6. Storage system can be installed after 6 months
7. Optimization of product and service will be realised through constant improvements
 realised by a technical team and research institute.

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.

Provide a transparent tracking of crop production, logistics and payment services to ensure all parties are provided with a fair price and conditions within a trade.

Provide a market place where farmers can connect directly to buyers cutting out intermediary costs and maintaining transparency of transactions

Provide platform to achieve higher profits in shorter periods of time, allow farmers and vendors to track progress of crops and market prices

Provide storage facilities at to increase profitability through the storage of perishable goods for farmers, vendors and wholesalers reducing waste and extending shelve life.

Provide farmers with sale assistance to sell their goods in markets, farmers do not even have to travel to markets as logistics can be handled as well a storage and sales

Storage allows suppliers and consumers to optimize the timing of marketing and consumption decisions and can last from a few hours up to several months. Storage provides stability for producers by helping to prevent losses. For example, depending on the crop, if prices are low, storage can allow producers to delay selling their products and wait for prices to increase; in cases where buyers delay collection, adequate storage can prevent products from spoiling.

Food suppliers, for example farmers, processors, transporters, retailers and food service providers, can increase their productivity by reducing food loss and waste. Indeed, if less food is lost or wasted, suppliers have more food to sell using the same amount of inputs while costs related to disposing of lost or wasted food decrease. Suppliers who work to reduce food loss and waste may improve their reputation for environmental stewardship and strengthen customer relations.

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

Our Vision is to drive innovation and be the preferred storage service provider for value addition of perishable goods. To increase private investment in agriculture, reduce food waste and contribute to the growth of the sector resulting improved livelihoods for stakeholders.

The aim is to fully understand the market at a high level by providing off-grid solar powered refrigerated storage facilities. Resource management and training of staff will allow the business to learn the market, build key relationships and build momentum to prove the product and expand. Within doing so to disturb the agricultural sector by creating a business which strengthens the value chain to reduce food waste and to gain maximum profits and quality on agricultural produce.

To achieve this we plan to provide the following services:

  • Provide cold storage facilities for urban markets to reduce food waste and increase shelf life of produce in-turn the potential for higher profits.
  • Install one storage system unit in an urban market for fruits and vegetables within Mbare, Harare.
  • This will require collaboration between stakeholders of the local market which includes, city council, vendors, wholesalers and farmers etc.
  • Use of the storage system on a day to day basis reducing food waste and providing stakeholders with a safe reliable place to store their products.
  • Provide a trading platform for farmers and vendors to ensure price regularities and cut out additional middle man costs.
  • Produce will also be sold at urban and rural markets at harvest times. We endeavour to have storage facilities at these markets to allow for produce to be sold throughout the week and prolong shelf life.
  •  Bulk buyers such as supermarkets & restaurants will be reached through marketing and samples. Targeted restaurants & supermarkets will require personal visits to show the product and discuss options for service and delivery

Environment: The solution will provide a completely off grid and renewable method of providing refrigerated storage. Refrigeration and air conditioning are responsible for a significant share of global greenhouse gas emissions and the increase of population in  urban areas in the developing world increases the demand for such services. Providing a climate smart initiative with renewable energy further reduces the carbon footprint of these facilities. Additionally food waste is reduced significantly decreasing chances of contamination and spread of diseases in the local area. 

Diets: As the world seemingly is becoming more health aware and preferring to eat fresh vegetables, the cooler box will ensure that the supply of fresh produce is readily available and is kept from spoilage. The produce stored will also be checked for quality and tracked from the farm so consumers are able to identify where their food is coming from. 

Economics: Provide a market place where farmers can connect directly to buyers cutting out intermediary costs and maintaining transparency of transactions. Vendors are also able to keep produce for longer in storage and not risk losing profits due to rotting. This in turn will increase the socio-economic activity within the community as the Farmers and vendors will have more money to employ more people and increase operation sizes to further support the supply chain. With more money financial inclusion will be inevitable.

Culture:The installation of the cold storage facilities will promote a culture of reducing food waste. As part of the business there will be education provided to the local community on how to manage waste to ensure that they have the knowledge, ability and facilities to do so within their own homes as this forms a significant part of the food waste in the supply chain. 

Technology: The cooler box provides a solution which utilizes the natural recycled materials as well as renewable energy to provide a system which adds value to the food system by prolonging shelf life of fresh food and reducing the carbon footprint at the same time. 

Policy: The imbalance between risk and market power faced by smallscale farmers is reinforced by a diverse set of policy areas ranging from land rights to access to inputs, market infrastructure, export policies, taxation, and investment.the imbalance between risk and market power faced by smallscale farmers is reinforced by a diverse set of policy areas ranging from land rights to access to inputs, market infrastructure, export policies, taxation, and investment. The cooler box presents a opportunity to strengthen the policy around market infrastructure to increase ease of doing business and setting standards for food safety and quality within urban markets. 

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website


Join the conversation:

Photo of Archiebold Manasseh

Refrigeration in farm production remains key, ways of reducing the cost of storage, will help a lot of small scale farmers, all the best

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