Coldrooms for small holder farmers and outgrowers across Africa

Although access to post-harvest cooling solutions provides smallholder farmers and out-growers with a competitive advantage in segregated markets, many times affordability and accessibility stand as key barriers to the uptake of cooling technology assets. Post-harvest losses, produce quality, and shelf life has, for the longest time, been chronic challenges for smallholder farmers and out-grower incomes. High-quality fresh produce is often hard to achieve if the right post-harvest, pre-cooling, and cold chain, especially at the first mile, is not in place. 

Limited finances have been cited as the most common barrier to the adoption of on-farm cooling solutions, and for this reason, InspiraFarms has developed two core solutions to solve this, with the assurance of quality, to sell more at better prices, with lower costs and access to key data.   

  1. Designed smaller, entry-level cold rooms, that are easy to install, self-standing and affordable for farms and cold chain operations.
  2. Offering a range of flexible payment solutions of up to 5 years, to maximize affordability and reduce the barriers to access. 

Features of the InspiraFarms entry-level cold rooms 

The entry-level cold rooms are suitable for small and new out-growers and small-holders. They come in standardized ranges of 15, 30 & 60 m², each with optional add-ons, including real-time data monitoring, humidifiers, solar kit and more. Each one of them is easy self-standing and can cover a range of cold chain operations of up to 8,000 kg/day of cooling or 20,000 kg/day of storage. (Storage refers to the capacity to store an already cooled product)

They are designed and built to treat any fresh produce, ranging from fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and fruits. Depending on your capacity and expansion needs, they are also designed to be modular, meaning that they can be expanded with your growing business needs.   

As energy demand is increasing worldwide, the energy market is heating up, and energy prices are on the rise. Now, more than ever, the concept of energy efficiency is gaining significant importance, to enable you to harness technology to help reduce or avoid energy waste so that recurrent services or activities continue but use less energy. For these reasons, each entry-level cold room is designed with the same energy-efficient features as our customisable cold rooms. This includes their build with sandwich panels of 100 mm thick high-density PUR (Polyurethane) for walls and ceilings, facilitating a high thermal insulation performance which drastically reduces energy bills. To power the cooling, each cold room is three-phase solar power enabled, although a single phase would also work for small units.  

The cold rooms are compliant with international food safety certifications such as BRC, ISO2200, GlobalGAP, HACCP, necessary for you to export and achieve global recognition and acceptance throughout the supply chains you operate in. Additionally, it is an effective market-entry tool for you as a new exporter, opening your opportunities to enter new high-value export markets around the world. 

Materials, components and cooling equipment 

Commonly, as a new and smaller grower or outgrower, you might need to adopt obsolete or inefficient cooling technology, such as reefer containers or second-hand cooling solutions to start the cooling process. However, this can lead to poorer quality shelf life and higher costs, making them considerably more expensive over the lifetime of the unit. As expected, the materials, components and cooling equipment are not designed to efficiently precool. Yet, an alternative to this would be to adopt an entry-level cold room, with dimensions specially though for small-medium scale operations, but with the best materials, components and cooling technologies to enable the best possible cooling treatment. The InspiraFarms entry-level cold rooms come with a coefficient performance that can be as high as twice as much as a reefer, allowing our customers to greatly reduce their energy bills.

The build of the machinery for our entry-level cold rooms is monoblock, ranging from 5kW to 18kW of cooling power. They are designed to enable the best possible cooling from pre-cooling 1,500 kg/cycle of high-value crops to 22,000 kg of storage of palletised and already chilled produce, in room temperatures of +0°C to 5°C. Additionally, they are delivered with an electric kit composed of internal LED lights, cables and trunking for all sensors.

Remote monitoring for entry-level cold rooms

To give full transparency on conditions inside and outside the cold room, each cold room contains InspiraConnect, the hardware that consists of IoT-enabled sensors, including intelligent sensors, loggers, and electronics that facilitates you to automatically generate key data needed to optimise your cooling performance. Each cold room is linked to InspiraCoolCloud, a user portal, accessible in a browser and mobile phone, with data readings on temperature, door opening, energy, humidity readings and more. Through this, users can visualise remotely the main parameters of operations and utilise this data to take actions towards optimising OPEX performance.    

To put up, the entry-level cold room requires a basic shed/roof and a simple concrete slab to be placed on, with materials allowing for 15-20 years of useful life when units are provided with proper regular maintenance. 

Optional and valuable cold room add-ons

BLAST CHILLERS AND FORCED AIR PRECOOLERS 

Blast chillers and forced air-precoolers allow you to increase the rate of your precooling, and drop-down pulp temperature as quickly as possible, avoid condensation, and minimise shrinkage and moulding. As an add-on for your cold room, forced air-cooling can reduce cooling times by 10 times or more, compared to standard cooling, and multiple units can be placed in the same room.

GRID-TIED SOLAR KITS 

The InspiraFarms solar Kits are designed to reduce as much as possible the energy cost for clients and to maximise the enterprise’s sustainability. They can ensure continuous operations when coupled with a Genset. One solar kit ensures up to 80% energy cost savings as well as up to 80% in emissions reduction, depending on the grid mix. Regarding power capacity, InspiraFarms offers four cooling electric loads, ranging from 3.75 kWp, 6 kWp, 10kW and 12 kWp.

HUMIDIFIERS  

If you have access to clean water, the addition of a humidifier to your cold room can greatly support the minimisation of produce shrinkage creating more sellable high-value produce. Any cooling process dehydrates produce, therefore, having humidifiers during cooling allows fruit, vegetables and herbs to maintain the right humidity, texture, weight, and appearance, all through the cooling process.

WEATHER STATION 

With an external weather station, you can monitor solar radiation, external temperature, humidity, and rainfall sensor, all fixed on a pole. This way, you can increase the control of your environment and have data to share with insurance and other stakeholders. 

Are you a smallholder farmer or new exporter interested in an entry level cold room? Contact us here today 

 

Interested in on-farm pre-cooling and cold chain for your fresh produce? 

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