By Jackson Okata
Farmers in eastern Kenya will enjoy better prices for their fresh produce, thanks to a new solar-powered storage facility.
Located in Yatta constituency’s Muuo Farm, Kithimani, the plant will reduce post-harvest losses and increase farmers’ bargaining power for perishable products.
The Cellux cooling plant is the first of its kind in Africa and hasa five-ton capacity. It can store fresh produce at six degrees centigrade.
The project was initiated through a partnership between the manufacturer Suncooling Inc and a German company, Kramer, which supervised the implementation.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Matthias Weckesser, from Kramer, called for discussions on ways to fight post-harvest losses. He also gave an assurance that the Cellux coolers would be a viable solution.
“Due to the heat and lack of cooling plants, billions of tons of agricultural products are lost annually. The unit provides a simple yet efficient solution, needs no extra grid connection and can be installed in very remote areas. Due to its modular construction, most parts can be sourced locally,” he said.
The German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy as well as the German Energy Agency, Dena, provided organisational and financial support for the project.
Dena representative Sophie Heitz said the project could simultaneously solve many problems without the use of fossil fuel.
“It allows the cooling of agricultural produce in off-grid regions without the use of fossil energy, reduces agricultural waste and loss of quality and will rebalance the negotiations between farmers and brokers,” she said.
Farmers’ representative Joseph Muuo said the Cellux cooler would reduce post-harvest losses and encourage farmers to invest more in agriculture.
In addition to enabling farmers to store products for longer periods, it will reduce the price manipulation by brokers and wholesalers.