Ugandan startup Munakyalo Agrofresh implements solar-powered cold storage to transform smallholder farming.
Ugandan startup Munakyalo Agrofresh is spearheading a transformative initiative to combat post-harvest losses among farmers. By deploying solar-powered Cold Hives, the company is redefining the landscape of smallholder agriculture, providing an effective solution to the prevalent issue of food spoilage.
Enhancing agricultural sustainability with Cold Hives
Munakyalo Agrofresh, established in May 2021 within the Kyaka 2 refugee settlement, is at the forefront of mitigating post-harvest losses. By introducing Cold Hives, the startup is addressing the challenge of food spoilage, extending the shelf life of perishable produce from a mere two days to an impressive two to three weeks.
According to the company, Sub-Saharan Africa sees 40% of all crops grown wasted due to post-harvest losses, 94% of this is down to inefficient supply chains. This can mean that smallholder farmers lose up to 25% of their income at every harvest.
Tackling the affordability barrier in cold storage solutions
Recognizing the financial constraints faced by smallholder farmers, Munakyalo Agrofresh has adopted a “pay as you store” business model. At an affordable rate of USD 0.40 per crate per day, the Cold Hives offer an economically viable solution. Furthermore, strategically locating these solar-powered storage units within farmer communities ensures increased accessibility and usage, thus revolutionizing the way farmers preserve their harvests.
“Smallholder farmers can’t afford modern cold storage facilities and resort to using polythene bags which easily contaminate their produce, resulting in food wastage,” said founder Ronald Lwasa. “As unrefrigerated perishable produce, such as tomatoes, avocadoes, and mangoes, starts to spoil in the heat, intermediary produce brokers exploit farmers’ urgent need to sell, often offering subpar prices for crops.”
Scaling impact through innovative funding approaches
Munakyalo Agrofresh, having participated in the ASIP accelerator program, secured USD18,000 in funding. Currently seeking a USD 500,000 investment, the startup aims to scale its operations. With four Cold Hives already in operation and 3,525 paying customers, the company envisions setting up an additional 30 units. This expansion would not only benefit more than 20,000 smallholder farmers but also support 1,000 market vendors, according to the company.
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