Dr Jane Ambuko is a don at University of Nairobi who using her expertise in Postharvest Science and Technology to help smallholder farmers reduce post harvest losses in perishable horticultural crops (mainly fruits and vegetables).
The adage “waste not, want not” is her vision for her own country and for Africa, where the equivalent of four billion dollars’ worth of food is lost annually due to poor post harvest handling practices, lack of affordable technologies and inefficiencies across the agricultural value chain after crops are harvested. In Kenya, post harvest losses in fruits and vegetables which range from 10-50% can be reduced to increase profits for smallholder horticultural farmers.
Cold storage is one of the technologies critical for post harvest handling perishable foods. However, conventional cold rooms are unaffordable for majority of the smallholder farmers. That is why Dr Ambuko and her project partners are piloting the Coolbot Technology as a low-cost cold-storage option for smallholder horticultural farmers in Africa.
Coolbot is an electronic gadget which when attached to an insulated room that is fitted with a standard air conditioner, turns it a cold room. With cold storage the quality of perishable fruits and vegetables can be preserved for a longer period thereby extending their shelf life/marketing period, ultimately reducing post harvest losses.