A modular on-site and solar-powered cold storage system from India could be the solution to the lingering post-harvest woes of farmers in the Philippines.
Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar on Friday, June 25, bared that the agency has teamed up with the Next Agri Corporation Philippines Inc., and Ecofrost Technologies India for the installation of India’s most innovative, digitally-enabled, modular solar-powered cold storage system at local food production spots.
“We welcome this innovative and inclusive technology that can be adopted anywhere in the Philippine countryside, simply with the aid of renewable solar energy,” Dar said.
The secretary explained that the solar-powered unit, the first-ever in the Philippines, will be a huge help to the farmers as it will allow them to store and preserve their produce even if they're at remote areas that have no access to electricity. There is also zero cost on power, since the units use solar emery.
“Like in other developing countries, the Philippine agriculture sector has been suffering from the high post-harvest losses. In the high-value crops alone, the losses can easily reach 20 to 40 percent," Dar said.
In recent years, farmers in rural and remote islands have been unable to preserve their produce due to the lack of cold storage facilities. This has forced them to sell their produce to middlemen and "loan sharks" at incredulously low prices that are often 50 percent lower compared to their actual produce value.
Having access to solar-powered cold storage would also address the woes of farmers suffering from the unreliable supply of electricity in off-grid rural and remote locations.
Dar further reckoned that on-site cold storage facilities would help build resilient Filipino farming communities as well as reduce food and income losses when natural disasters like typhoons, floods, and droughts occur.
Once the Indian technology becomes available in the country, Dar said that the challenge is to make the facilities affordable and sustainable--along with an after-sales service that should be a requisite for all agri-fishery equipment manufacturers, distributors, and service providers.