26 April 2023
Multi-nation project will help minimise potato waste and support growers' productivity.
FUNDING to address cold chain failures in Africa has been announced, as part of a multi-nation drive that will stop potato and other vegetables going to waste.
Developing countries will receive £4 million to drive down harmful emissions from outdated air conditioning units, cooling refrigeration and cold supply chains.
The funding will be provided this summer to the United Nations Environment Programme, University of Birmingham, Government of Rwanda and fellow project partners as part of Defra’s £21 million Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain Solutions programme.
Announcing the funding, Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “This funding will help developing countries to play their part in tackling climate change and communities across the world with storing food and medicines more efficiently - as well as support farmers to increase their productivity.”
In sub-Saharan Africa, small-holder growers contribute 80% of food produced. About 37% of all food is lost between production and consumption, and almost 50% of vegetables and fruits are lost mainly because of improper cold-chain management.
There is a severe lack of adequate cold storage and refrigerated transport vehicles.
Officials from Rwanda's Ministry of Environment reiterated the country's commitment to the development of the Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold-chain (ACES) headquarters in Kigali, which will be launched later this year.
Professor Toby Peters, Professor in Cold Economy at University of Birmingham and Heriot-Watt University is leading the collaboration of UK Universities supporting the work in Africa and India. He said: “Sustainable and equitable cooling and cold-chain is now more than ever critical infrastructure in a warming world. Food saved is as important as food produced.
“This programme for the first time delivers in an integrated approach that includes on-the-ground training and support for subsistence farmers and their communities, financeable business models and the network of skilled engineers needed to support equipment installation and maintenance. This work is underpinned by the evidence strategies required for the development of sustainable cold-chain and community cooling.”
Professor Peters said addressing the cooling demand would reduce food loss and convert it into increased income for growers, as well as increasing food security and affordability for consumers.
Alongside the UK funding commitments, the Government of Rwanda is overseeing the development of key campus infrastructure to support the centre.
The consortium of Rwanda and UK universities, including University of Birmingham, Heriot-Watt University, Cranfield University and London South Bank University, are working together in collaboration with international academic and teaching partners and cooling industries to develop the centre’s teaching and research programs to provide a pipeline of skills and expertise and innovation in cooling technology solutions, systems and models.
UK’s ACES funding is supporting the development of Specialised Outreach and Knowledge Establishments (SPOKEs) to disseminate knowledge and deployment of solutions throughout Africa – the first being in Kenya – as well as technical assistance to replicate the model in India in Telangana and Haryana.
An additional £1.2 million funding from Defra has been allocated to the project partners to further support the development of roadmaps and digital tools to help developing countries design the equitable and resilient and cost-efficient approaches, quantify the full economic environmental and societal impact as well as understand the policy landscape required to implement new approaches.