When it comes to food wastage, India has a unique problem. There problem doesn’t like in overconsumption, but rather, the inability for food to last long enough to be prepared—the government estimates that 30 to 40 percent of food spoils. And while refrigeration seems like the obvious answer to problem, farmers in India have little to no access to electricity. Even Tamil Nadu, which is deemed to be the most industrialized state in the country, a mere 40 percent of the citizens have electricity.
The New York Times has reported that business students and engineers from the University of Cincinnati have teamed with local Ohio companies to find the solution to this problem: a solar-powered refrigerator shed. The SolerCool container runs on a battery that charges during the day via the eight solar panels.
How much would this unique refrigerator cost? A whopping $5,000. But the team knows that this is an extravagant expense, if not an impossible one, for the farmers.
“At the moment the price means that several farms would have to pool resources and share one unit,” says Mohsen Rezayat, chief solutions architect at Siemens PLM and an adjunct professor in the University of Cincinnati’s engineering school. “We are very price-conscious and are looking at ways to bring the price down to really help the poorest of the poor increase their earning potential.” One possibility is to manufacture some smaller units for farmers with just a few acres.