The University of Birmingham and the International Solar Alliance (ISA) have announced that they are functioning together to help farmers in ‘sun-rich’ countries make the most of chilled food distribution systems powered by solar and solar-hybrid solutions.
Birmingham is the ISA’s research partner on its Solar Cooling Initiative (I-SCI) which will help to spread the use of solar and solar-hybrid energy linked cold-chains and cooling systems for agricultural use in countries in the Tropics, such as India, Egypt and Brazil. For this initiative, ISA is collaborating with India’s National Centre for Cold-chain Development (NCCD) for domain expertise and knowledge support.
The two organisations will discover opportunities to drive forward ISA’s agenda to research, plan and deliver such technologies in ISA member countries positioned between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
Director-General ISA, Upendra Tripathy said the initiative aims to enable millions of farmers by way of integrating cold-chains that work on solar fully or partially. The focus would be on farm-to-fork supply chains – reducing wastage and increasing farmers’ income, leading to economic wellbeing.
“This project will align with the ISA’s first programme ‘Scaling Solar for Applications in the Agricultural Use’. It is noteworthy that 28 countries have joined this programme to install 270,000 solar water pumps for which ISA has launched a global aggregation and price discovery tender.”
Agricultural economic growth in such countries depends upon connecting farmers with markets – cold chains are vital to transport perishable produce which can otherwise suffer up to 40 percent loss in the journey from farm to market.
Cold-chain connectivity and reduction in food loss would ensure that the given volume of production generates more revenue and increases farmers’ economic wellbeing. However, cooling systems must be driven by sustainable technology if they are not increasing the risk of climate change.
Professor Toby Peters, Professor in Cold Economy, University of Birmingham, says: “Application of clean efficient cooling in cold-chains is vital for delivering sustainable food. It enhances the financial security of farmers, growers and fishers, as well as improving food quality, safety, nutritional content and value to consumers. It can also achieve this sustainably with minimum environmental and natural resource impact. Cold-chains can be an essential contributor to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
“But with rapid urbanization, this presents a big challenge. How do you create the local and global, temperature-controlled “field to fork” connectivity to feed 10 billion people sustainably from hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers whose livelihoods and well-being are often dependent on only 1-2 hectares, as well as ensuring they are climate change adaptation ready and resilient.… all without using fossil fuels? Our work with the new ISA Solar cooling initiative will set out to answer this big and urgent challenge.”
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