Every day, in many markets all over Nigeria, the race is on to sell fresh produce early in the day. By noon, with temperatures soaring, food spoils fast. As the day wears on, food can sell at less than half of its original value, slashing profits for retailers and farmers.
That's why Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu decided to take a fresh approach to food waste. He's the founder of ColdHubs, which provides solar-powered food storage units designed for markets and farms. Launched in 2015, ColdHubs now has 54 units in 22 states across Nigeria. More than 5,250 smallholder farmers, retailers, and wholesalers use its cold rooms and in 2020, the company stored 40,000 tons of food, reducing waste and increasing farmers' profits.
Nigeria is ranked 100 out of 113 countries on the Global Food Security Index. Over 88 million people in the country face food insecurity and 12% are undernourished. Ikegwuonu's ColdHubs are 10-foot-square cold storage units which keep produce fresh for up to 21 days.
Conventional cold storage units of this size would be powered by diesel generators and require 20 to 30 liters of diesel every day, says Ikegwuonu -- but by using solar panels instead, he says that across all its units, the company prevents over 1 million kilograms of CO2 entering the atmosphere each year, while powering the units 24/7.