GAMBIA – The British government in partnership with Gambia’s Kanifing municipality has launched a project to set up solar powered cold rooms for vegetable preservation in the markets of this city in the west of country.

The aim of British funded initiative is to reduce food loss, contribute towards food security in the small West African nation and encourage women to enter the vegetable trade.

To this end, several markets in Kafing Municipality will be equipped with solar powered cold rooms- which are more economical to run compared to diesel or electricity run cold rooms.

Work has already started in one of the markets known as Serekunda market, where vegetable vendors are expected to benefit from a more sustainable way of preserving their stock.

For Musu Meta Manneh, the representative of the Serekunda vegetable sellers, this is “one of the biggest projects ever received at the Serekunda market and this wonderful project will greatly help to reduce the losses we suffer on a daily basis”.

She said this at the inauguration ceremony of the cold storage room at Serekunda Market, which cost 615,800 dalasis, or more than US$11,800, to build.

The Kafing Municipality plans to install solar-powered cold rooms in 18 other markets in Kanifing city.

“We understand that the women in the market have suffered huge losses due to the Covid pandemic.19. This project is part of my government’s efforts to help the Gambia’s economic recovery,” says David Belgrove, the British High Commissioner to the Gambia.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 30% of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted along the supply chain every year.

This is a whopping 1.3 billion metric tons of food that doesn’t ever reach the consumer. Some reports have estimated that this lost or wasted food could be used to feed 1.6 billion people every year.

In Africa, the losses are even higher, ranging between 30% and 50% and occur mainly downstream, between the production and retail stages of the supply chain.

Fruit and vegetable losses are estimated to be 50% or more. This estimate is cumulative because losses occur at every stage of the supply chain – from production to the consumption.

To address this challenges, technologies and innovations suited for the African continent are needed to help farmers and small-scale traders avoid losses.

The solar powered cold-rooms launched in Gambia are a good example of sustainably preventing post-harvest losses on the continent.

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