Light Fridge

Light Fridge: Reducing post harvest losses by increasing the shelf life of fresh produce

Kampala, UgandaUganda
Year Founded:
2015
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Light Fridge project increases the shelf life of fresh Produce in a cost effective way using green technology. This helps fight food security by reducing post harvest losses in fresh produce. The target is small holder farmers in rural areas with low access to electricity.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if a rural small scale farmer was able to feed his family for more days or sell at a better price by storing his perishable produce for an extra 14 days?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In Uganda, post harvest losses have been estimated at 35%-60% in fruits and vegetables which is a threat to food and nutrition security. In absence of refrigeration, fresh produce rots, most of which can't be converted to shelf-stable foods. 80% of the country's population is employed in agriculture and lives in the rural areas with only 3% having access to electricity, grossly limiting them access to refrigeration or cold storage facilities.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Using GREEN TECHNOLOGY, LIGHT FRIDGE employs, empowers and equips small holder farmers in rural areas through COLD STORAGE. The simple technology only requires a flow of DRY AIR and a source of WATER. Cooling slows down ripening and rotting of fresh produce hence reducing food losses, which enables availability of more food for households and markets, maintains the quality(nutritional value) of food, improves income generation along the food chain and enables the farmers to sell their produce at a better price. So far, 7 trials have been done successfully in Bushenyi and Wakiso districts. Light Fridge is planning to expand to other districts in the country and partner with National Farmers Association.

Awards

None at the moment
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Kyobutungi, a single mother of 3, grows tomatoes, beans, green pepper and egg plants on small scale in kyamuhunga-Bushenyi. This garden is her source of income and also feeds her family. She doesn't have electricity and during peak seasons, she had no way of storing her fresh produce. As a result, she was forced to sell her produce soon after harvest when the price was at it's lowest. As a pilot study case, Kyobutungi is now using Light Fridge, all she needs is a source of water. She can now store her produce for up to 2-3 weeks depending on the type of crop. This enables her to sell quality produce to different markets at a better price due to longer preservation time. Kyobutungi can also stock and feed on nutritious food much longer.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Since April 2015, We have developed several units and done trials with 7 farmers in 2 districts. All these farmers either grow fruits, vegetables or legumes and mainly operate on small scale. In a period of 3 months, the shelf life of their produce has increased from a range of 3days-1week to 2-3 weeks. We observed that, if food mainly grown for consumption is harvested at reasonable intervals, this preservation period provides access to food for a long time. We have also identified potential market and specific groups of people that can benefit from this project e.g. women groups, farmers associations, food vendors. Our plan is to penetrate these groups and expand to Northern Uganda in the next 8 months with a target of reaching 500 farmers.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

In developing countries, agriculture continues to be the main source of employment, livelihood and income for between 50% - 90% of the population. Of this percentage, small farmers make the up the majority, up to 70 – 95% of the farming population. Nearly 80% do not have access to electricity which limits the possibility of cold storage. Our plan is to reach 5000 farmers in Uganda within 2-3years, then expand to East Africa in the next 5years.
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Our competitor is Baridi stores. This company also works towards reducing post harvest losses. They differ from Light Fridge in that they use solar powered cold storage warehouses, it partly runs on diesel generators, rents out it's space, mostly caters for large scale farmers and at the moment, they are still based in the urban area. By partnering with them, we can explore collaboration and gain more insight on the challenges that these farmers face.
Team

Founding Story

As a young boy growing up in Rugarama, a village in Kabale, we used to wake up by 6am with baskets full of produce to go to sell in the market or door to door. But in our culture, boys are considered more important than girls so by 8 am, any produce not sold would be given to the girls to continue looking for market and the boys left to go to school. Sometimes the girls would spend the whole day out of school because if they brought the produce back home, it would mean money lost for the whole family especially the mothers who depend on it. And that’s where the idea begun, to find a solution to enable longer preservation of produce so that kids could have a higher bargaining power.

Team

Phillip Tumwebaze—Founder is a Telecom engineer by profession working at Nokia, Airtel Uganda. He is also the product developer for light fridge. Philip has worked on a variety of projects like an android NFC shopping scheme which is still underway, an entertainment and wedding website company where you get to plan for your whole wedding online among others others. Rachel Aitaru is a software engineering student and a user experience designer by practice. She is a co-founder and the lead researcher on the project. Rachel also analyses the user(farmer's) needs and prototypes which helps in designing solutions tailored to meet the users needs. She has worked on various projects like mDex-a mobile application, costing pro- a web based system that helps craft makers manage their finances plus several other projects that require user centered design.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Facebook

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Founder

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Zero Hunger, Affordable and Clean Energy.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Started a company called redeemer lives that is meant to give a number of the numerous unemployed youth in Uganda Jobs (Youth Unemployment in Uganda is around 75% ) by equipping them with sales and marketing skills and earning through commission, the ones who showed commitment and were progressive in their work would be put on salary scheme.

Started an Android NFC shopping scheme where people don’t have to carry cash if they own an NFC enabled phone and have a bank account or Mobile Money. Hope to employ a number of youth once it is launched in marketing, software development for the different platforms used, account management for the various accounts.

Involved in an RFID chip project for cattle management to curb the rampant theft of cattle especially for the large scale farmers. It’s basically a live real time cattle geo-positioning system that enables the farmer to keep track of all his animals and their locations, any that crosses the defined boundary triggers an alarm. Some farmers can have thousands of thousands of cattle over various square miles of land. We plan to incorporate other features in the chips to make them more useful.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

The head of private business, DFID who has been providing advice on scalability and presentation, and various tests to be done to prove the efficiency and viability of the product.