Evaporative Cooling and Cool Storage Technologies for Horticultural Crops
Nutrient levels of fresh fruit and vegetables begin to decline gradually once harvested, due to their high water content (about 90%), contributing to deterioration and decay. Deterioration of fresh produce starts from the moment it is harvested and continues until it reaches the final consumer. While the optimal storage conditions vary for different fresh produce, many fruits and vegetables are best stored in a cool and humid environment to prevent rot and dehydration. The storage conditions and temperature management along the supply chain play a key role in preventing postharvest losses, and the cold chain management should start right from the time the produce is harvested.
MarGEn conducted a Commodity System Assessment Methodology (CSAM) study in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Senegal and Nepal for the Feed the Future Business Drivers for Food Safety (BD4FS) from September to December 2020 to identify critical postharvest issues in the selected horticulture crops and the potential business opportunities for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Most techniques for cooling and storing fruits and vegetables rely on electricity — which is unavailable or unaffordable in most of the rural areas in developing nations — limiting access to effective and affordable postharvest storage options. The evaporative cooling devices that are the subject of this article function without the use of electricity and so are well suited for regions without electricity access or where electricity-dependent cooling and storage technologies are not affordable. The effective and affordable cooling and storage technologies have the potential to prevent food loss, increase access to fresh produce and create opportunities for additional income generation in off-grid areas and where electricity is intermittent or prohibitively expensive.