ECYL Start-Up Creates Ecotutu: A Solar-Powered Food Storage For Farmers

According to the 2016 Rockefeller Foundation report titled ‘YieldWise: How the World Can Cut Food Waste’, in developing countries, refrigeration is both expensive and inaccessible for millions of farmers who live in rural areas and have per capita income of less than US$2 per day. Today, this problem still persists and leads to spoilage rates as high as 45% for fruits and vegetables, and a total loss of $4 billion dollars in Africa annually says Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Ecotutu™ Prototype Design © 2019

Ecotutu™ Prototype Design © 2019


The Nigerian start-up RenewDrive has developed a scalable solution to fix this gap and help keep fruits and vegetables more fresh for a longer time.

Agriculture is a major driver of Africa’s economy. A large part of the population lives from this industry, according to the ILO, 57 per cent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is employed in agriculture. To put this in clearer perspective: more than half of the population work on smallholder farms or in families that operate subsistence farming. These two categories of farmers face major challenges in their day to day work – in particular the lack of sufficient storage facilities available for their crops, especially the ones that are perishable in nature. Lack of access to low-cost cooling solution prevents farmers from conveniently reaching end-markets. It deprives families of hard-earned money, and can lead to long term health and nutrition problems for the teeming population.

Greening Cold Chain To Cut Food Waste

The Global Opportunity Report of 2018 outlines recent advances in mobile refrigeration, for example the use of solar power, which is creating a revolution ‘that harnesses renewable energy to fix the broken cold chains’. To this end, Earth Charter Young Leader and Nigerian ecopreneur,  Babajide Oluwase , and his team at RenewDrive is pioneering a ‘pay-as-you-go’ (PAYG) storage service for fruit and vegetable farmers – combining low-cost, flexible payments option with solar-powered evaporation technology. It was initiated on the founders’ belief that PAYG model could create a leapfrog opportunity in energy access and address a huge market need – low-cost post-harvest storage. “By using solar energy we attempt to ‘green’ cold chains and make it very affordable for everyone” says Babajide.
To date, the team has conducted multiple iterations on product design, and field tests to prepare for eventual market entry by Q3 2019 in Nigeria. The managing team aims to expand across markets in Africa and Asia, with the ultimate goal of fixing the agricultural supply chain and provide low-cost storage access to 300,000 farmers by 2024.

For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/renewdrive/