Food waste is a huge problem all around the world, but the causes of spoilage are different depending on the region. In many developing countries like Nigeria, the primary cause of waste is not inefficient purchasing and cooking habits, but inadequate storage facilities to keep food fresh.
When radio journalist Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu saw the magnitude of food waste in the Farin Gada Market in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, he envisioned an innovative new way for entire communities to boost their food resilience. Ikegwuonu came up with ColdHubs, a company that installs 100 percent solar-powered walk-in cold storage rooms at Nigerian markets to help farmers and vendors cut down on spoilage and boost profits.
Both fossil fuel-powered energy and food waste emit a high level of greenhouse gas emissions, so solar-powered fridges are a double win for the environment. So far, ColdHubs serves 3,517 users and their 24 Hubs have saved over 20,000 tons of food from spoilage. The Hubs have also increased vendor incomes and created 48 new jobs for women.
Seven years since launching his food-saving vision, Ikegwuonu has now been awarded the 2020 Waislitz Global Citizen Disruptor Award for his work which will allow him to further expand his services throughout the country.
In developing countries, approximately 50 percent of all horticultural products are lost or wasted before reaching the consumer, which exacerbates food insecurity and poverty. Saving this food has a direct impact on community wellbeing. According to Ikegwuonu, in Nigeria alone, a 35 percent reduction in post-harvest tomato loss would impact vitamin A deficiency for up to 1.1 million children per day.
These solar-powered fridges are not only cutting down on methane emissions from food waste using a renewable energy solution but also providing financial security for farmers and improved nutrition options for entire communities. We hope to see these green food fridges spread to markets all around the world!