YAP proposal #71: Walk-in coldrooms to stop food spoilage (John Mbindyo, Kenya)

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Did you know that solving food spoilage would feed 1 billion more people in Africa by 2050? According to the Rockefeller Foundation, food loss results in losses in income to the tune of 15% or more for 470 million smallholder farmers, retailers, processors and buyers.  It is further estimated that small farmers and retailers suffer a 25% reduction in their income due to loss of value of their fruits and vegetable harvests.

My name is John Mbindyo, a 27 year old Kenyan, a proud farmer and an IT graduate from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. I am a co-founder at Shopa.co.ke and FreshBox.

FreshBox is a walk-in cold room that provides 24/7 storage and preservation of perishable foods. They are installed in markets and farms within the reach of farmers and retailers. Cold room temperature of 0°C to 15°C extend the freshness of fruits, vegetables and other perishable food from 2 days to 21 days making it easy for the retailers to buy in wholesale and sell till the last unit.

We employ women to hire out fruits and vegetables storage crates to farmers and retailers at a rate of less than $1 per crate per day. The farmers then fill the crates with their perishable produce which is then stored in the FreshBox. A single FreshBox of size 5m*3m*2m can hold up to 100 crates.

The Freshbox is solar-powered making it accessible to farmers who are not connected to the electricity grid hence reducing reliance on electricity and other fossil fuels. By increasing food shelf life we are able to maximize on farm produce and reduce global food spoilage. We measure our impact by the number of farmers and retailers served as well as tons of produce preserved.

So far we are running a pilot program with 5 fruits and vegetables retailers at Ngara Market in Nairobi and we have engaged over 100 farmers and 200 fruits and vegetables vendors who have shown complete willingness to participate in the rollout phase of the program within Nairobi and Kiambu counties.

With $5,000 we will be able to purchase two addition FreshBox units within one month and increase our capacity to serve over 200 additional fresh produce farmers and retailer.

Blogpost and picture submitted by John Mbindyo (Kenya) – john[at]freshbox.co.ke

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.


This post is published as proposal #71 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

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26 thoughts on “YAP proposal #71: Walk-in coldrooms to stop food spoilage (John Mbindyo, Kenya)

  1. This is innovative considering that agriculture is the core source of income for majority of Kenyans and Africans at large.

  2. Such a great innovation and idea. Saving food spoilage is definitely the way to go, to feeding more people in Africa and hopefully in the future the idea could be expanded to other developing countries.
    I nominate Yap proposal #71
    #FreshBox

    1. We will definitely replicate the business model to other countries. Our ultimate goal is to reach the entire African continent.

    1. We all have an equal role to secure the future of generations to come and food sustainability plays a key role. Thanks Innocent.

  3. Great idea John! It is innovations like these that will go a long way towards improving our continental food security! This model lends itself to sustainability and hopefully a much wider reach. 👍👍#Africarising #foodforall

    1. Thanks Joshwa, its a collective responsibility and embracing technology makes it easier to achieve our goals.

  4. As a farmer, I totally relate to this. I see tonnes and tonnes of short shelf life produce going to waste just by the mere fact that farmer do not have a way to address the post harvest challenges. I look forward to see this technology reach in my area of operation. Keep up the good work brother and may the Lord grant you favour and success in helping more farmers like me.

    1. We will cover the entire Nairobi in the next 6 months then start branching out to other counties so expect to see us in you area in less than 1 year from now. Thank you for your farming input so far, its encouraging to know that we are not alone in this journey.

    1. Thanks for the complement Eliwood. We look forward to working with you on different stages of our development.

  5. I agree as a farmer post harvest waste is a great challenge. Where can one get the walk in storage? would like to have one.

    1. Thanks for your comment MFG. Please send us an email to john at freshbox dot co dot ke. We will be more than willing to work out a lasting solution together.

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