Exciting new technology in India is helping reduce waste and raise profits for farmers. The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) has successfully developed a cold storage unit that is portable and solar-powered — able to store up to 500 kilograms of produce from farmers and work off the grid in energy-deprived areas. India already uses 30 million metric tons of space for cold storage and still has a high percentage of wasted of perishables because of low quality facilities and a lack of quality refrigerated transport for food. So this technology is potentially huge for farmers in the area because they can prevent waste and make more money by selling refrigerated items like fruits, vegetables and flowers at times of peak demand.
Farmers in India grow a variety of crops, and these new Ecofrost storage solutions are allowing farmers reduce spoilage, which results in the loss of more than 30 percent of perishable produce in India. The product offers a wide range of temperature controls specific to each type of produce, which the farmer can set remotely through a mobile phone app. The app also allows farmers to check on the cold room from their phone wherever they may be. The room is meant to be used on the farm right after harvest and has an option where you can increase shelf life further by rapidly cooling produce, according to the website for the manufacturer, Ecozen Solutions.
Breakthrough in Energy Efficiency
This solar powered cold room is easily transported and has battery backup for 24 to 36 hours, keeping produce at the perfect temperature even in loss of sun. Systems are monitored by the company, which alerts farmers before a potential loss of refrigeration that would endanger produce. The parent company, Ecozen Solutions, was created in 2010 by three graduates from the IIT-M — Devendra Gupta, Prateek Singhal and Vivek Pandey — who held a common desire to provide breakthroughs in energy efficiency and sustainability, according to Indian rural news website KrishiJagran.com.
The company’s clean green energy focus has won multiple national and international awards. Ecozen was funded by IIT-M and India’s Department of Science and Technology. It started as a solar solutions company, then began building technology around innovative agriculture solutions. Ecofrost units cost roughly 550,000 to 600,000 rupees, or about $8,000-9,000 US dollars. After an estimated two-year break-even period, an Ecofrost container could provide a farmer with a 40 percent increase in earnings, while doing a service to the community and environment. The size of the storage rooms may also be customized based on the need of the farmer.
Photo credit: Ashden.org