In Africa, many smallholder farmers face the challenge of post-harvest food losses because they aren’t able to store perishable fruits and vegetables adequately before they reach the market. With fast growing populations, increased food insecurity in Africa, and the need to address global poverty levels, technology innovations that can address these challenges, provide sustainable solutions of the future.
Wakati is one such solution which is a tent-shaped bag, powered by a solar panel that creates a micro-climate inside to extend the shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables up to ten times. The product was inspired by traditional evaporation coolers which use humidity to keep perishables fresh. The current design retails for about $100 and can store between 200 and 400 kilograms of fruit and vegetables. Powered by solar, this solution is low-carbon and suitable for many rural farming communities where there is no reliable access to the electricity grid. It is also designed to be a more affordable than large refrigerators.
Wakati aims to assist farmers in reducing food losses, which also has positive implications for the valuable resources that are used to grow produce like water. In Africa, farming is a backbone of many economies. Globally, smallholders manage “over 80 per cent of the world’s estimated 500 million small farms and provide over 80 per cent of the food consumed in a large part of the developing world, contributing significantly to poverty reduction and food security,” according to IFAD’s Smallholders, Food Security & Environment report of 2013.
Preventing food loss and waste is an international priority for sustainable production and consumption – as one third of all food produced is lost or wasted along the supply chain. In addition to environmental impacts of food waste, the economic consequences are costly and amount to approximately $750 billion annually (excluding fish and seafood).
Innovative technology solutions have the potential to create significant impacts for poverty alleviation, food security, and the prevention of food losses while also having a positive impact on the environment through increased resource efficiency and sustainable production patterns.
The Wakati products are currently being sold and tested in Haiti, Uganda and Afghanistan.