Multi-country: Inspira Farms
Tailoring cooling solutions to prevent post-harvest losses
Agriculture is Africa’s leading employment sector, representing 35% of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Across sub-Saharan Africa, it is estimated that a lack of access to post-harvest infrastructure such as cold storage facilities result in food losses of 30-50%. Across the globe, such losses are responsible for 3.3billion tonnes of CO2e emissions, contributing to climate change.
‘First-mile’ cooling is key to preserving the market value of produce, however, only a small proportion of Africa’s farmers currently have access to cold storage close to where their produce is grown. Where storage is available, affordability is a major barrier to cold chain access, particularly for small and medium sized growers. It is estimated that enabling agribusinesses to access affordable, energy-efficient cold chain infrastructure could reduce post-harvest losses by up to 80%, cutting associated greenhouse gas emissions, increasing farmers’ profits and addressing food insecurity.
Enterprise Project Ventures (EPV), operating as InspiraFarms™ Cooling, designs, manufactures, services and finances energy efficient, data-driven cold-chain infrastructure. By offering services at farm level, InspiraFarms Cooling’s solution extends the shelf life of produce and enables it to attract a higher value, particularly in the export market. The initiative supports SDG 12.3 by reducing food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.
The company’s modular packhouses incorporate pre-cooling chambers and cold-storage and are delivered to customers’ specifications, ranging in size between 30m² and 2,000m². The energy-efficient packhouses are powered by the grid or by off-grid solutions which seek to incorporate solar photovoltaic technology to reduce the carbon footprint of each unit. The facilities can be monitored remotely using automated technology to keep them at a steady temperature of between 2⁰C and -24⁰C (as required for the produce being stored). Local teams are trained to undertake maintenance and to provide customer support.
Having established itself through Commercial Sales and Financed Asset Sales, InspiraFarms Cooling recognised the challenges faced by smaller agribusinesses and crop aggregators in meeting the high up-front costs of cold storage ownership and, with support from InfraCo Africa, is piloting a new Operating Asset Model. The cold-storage packhouses will be owned by InspiraFarms Cooling with clients paying for ‘Cooling-as-a-Service’ via a monthly fee structure based on tonnes of throughput required. This model is commonly used close to ports but is lacking on or near to farms.
Focusing on the company’s anchor markets of Kenya, Ghana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, InfraCo Africa’s investment will finance a minimum of five new InspiraFarms Cooling facilities operated using the ‘Cooling-as-a-Service’ model. It is anticipated that the pilot will enable InspiraFarms Cooling to generate additional data to support the value of its new delivery model, enabling the business to scale and attract further finance for replication in other markets.
With access to ‘first-mile’ cold storage, farmers will be able to sell their produce year-round, supporting climate change adaptation and resilience.
Being jointly delivered by InfraCo Africa and Enterprise Project Ventures Ltd (through InspiraFarms Cooling)