African Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold-Chain Opens in Kigali

Jean Claude Shirimpumu attending to his pigs in Gicumbi districts

Jean Claude Shirimpumu, is one of largest pig farmers in Rwanda, who raises his animals of quality breed, which has enabled him to amass assets worth over Rwf250 million

However, due to lack of cooling units and specialized meat transport, he sells whole animals to brokers who slaughter and sell the pork to bars, restaurants and hotels making more money from his sweat.

For example, the brokers buy a kilo at between Rwf2000-2200, and after skinning the caucus sell at Rwf4000 per kilo, and if they add value (cutting and storage) they in crease the unit price to Rwf6000.

“If we had ways of storing the produce and transport, we would earn that Rwf 6,000. That means we, the farmers, earn less than the brokers,” Shirimpumu said adding that this incurs him a loss of nearly Rwf1million per month.

Shirimpumu, who rears 720 pigs to date and earns Rwf10million per month, says that despite the availability of slaughter house infrastructure and good roads, the lack of cold room equipment has denied him the ability to sell after six months (at pig maturity) and store pig skin which is also sold at a good price.

Farmers say that they are earning less in the food value chain delivered on plates in bars, hotels and restaurants

Shirimpumu’s concerns are shared by many other farmers, but these challenges could come to an end following the launch of the first Pan- Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold-Chain (ASEC) in Kigali, this March 4, 2024 at the Rubirizi Campus.

ASEC will deploy state-of-the art technology and capacity building to enable Africa to develop sustainable food value chains and vaccines storage.

By leveraging cutting-edge technologies and innovative solutions, ACES- (as a centre of reference) will in its first phase, empower farmers, healthcare workers, experts and stakeholders across various sectors to mitigate losses, enhance resilience, and promote sustainable development.

Rwanda’s Minister of Environment, Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya (right) officially opened the centre along • David Hill, Director General of Defra, Representing the UK Minister, Rebecca Pow

In Rwanda, 73% of the total workforce are employed in agriculture and according to the World Bank, food losses represents 12% annual GDP.

World Bank figures show that 62% cannot afford cooling technology due to high initial investments, 96% of farmers living in the vicinity of the cold rooms don’t use them and only 5% of firms in the food and agriculture sector have refrigerated trucks.

While 9% have a cold room to store fresh produce, small and marginal farmers, where the majority of post-harvest food losses occur, functional cold chains are completely absent (less than 1% of cold-chain capacity).

Carole Gwiza, the Executive Director of ACES in Kigali. There are other ACES in India in the states of Haryana and Telengana

Carole Gwiza, the Executive Director of ACES said that the centre will act as a bridge between the farmer and the service providers who will deliver tailored and affordable cooling technology.

“The intention here is to build a cold-chain which will enable farmers to see financial benefits from their produce thus reducing post-harvest waste and loss,” Gwiza said.

Gwiza revealed that the first phase will focus on manpower training, capacity building and awareness (for farmers and experts) that will come with research, testing and developing affordable models that respond to the needs of farmers and livestock keepers, and private sector players.

“ACES is complemented with Specialized Outreach and Knowledge Establishments (SPOKEs) where we will demonstrate solutions and cascade knowledge to local markets in order to accelerate deployment of sustainable smart cold-chain in Community Cooling Hubs (CCH),” Gwiza said.

The first of these is being developed in Kenya and according to Gwiza more SPOKEs will be developed (even in Rwanda) to reach the rural citizens who need applicable and affordable cold-chain tech.

In order to reach and educate farmers, during the initial phase of the ACES, private sector players like, Carrier Transicold signed a memorandum of understanding with ACES to deliver three cold-chain units which will be used for this purpose.

Walid Kaddachi (left) signed an agreement with ACES Executive Director, Carole Gwiza. The MoU was witnessed by Minister Mujawamariya (top right) and David Hill, Director General of Defra UK

Walid Kaddachi, the Strategic Development Director for Africa said that they are willing to expand their services in Rwanda to extend their latest truck trailer refrigeration products to boost export of fresh foods and vegetables.

ACES Institute which focuses on sustainable cold-chain solutions, bringing together expertise and partners globally will be a crucial step towards addressing pressing challenges like post-harvest food loss and vaccine deterioration in Africa and Rwanda’s environment protection goals.

“Making the cold-chain part of critical infrastructure is essential for lifting millions out of poverty and hunger, accelerating economic growth, and meeting our Vision 2050 and international commitments like the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol as well as the Paris Agreement,” said Rwanda’s Minister of Environment, Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya who officially opened the centre.

Groop photo of ACES’s various stakeholders including the Rwanda and UK government, Rwanda Biomedical Center, University of Rwanda, Rwanda Environment Management Authority among others

ACES initiative has been made possible through the collaborative efforts of various stakeholders, including both Governments of Rwanda and the UK, the United Nations Environment Programme, a consortium of leading UK and international universities, the University of Rwanda, and Rwanda Polytechnic as well as the partnership with the world-leading industries.

The ACES facility, which has training facilities and a demonstration hall will facilitate collaboration between African governments, industry, academia and development institutions to translate knowledge into sustainable actions in order to address global challenges and build a more resilient and equitable world.

The launch of ACES, will also witness the unveiling of inaugural “By Degrees” Magazine which will be covering the projects developments and create more awareness on the impact of the centre and global warming globally, according to Nick Gibbs, the Magazine’s Editor.

Nick Gibbs, the “By Degrees” Magazine’s Editor has a commitment to create awareness on the ACES in Kigali and its future impact.
ACES Partners and stakeholders such as UNEP and FAO commended the establishment of the centre which will promote sustainable development.
Centre toured by Coumba Dieng Sow, the FAO Representative and Country Director (left) with Prof. Toby Peters (right), Director of UK’s Centre for Sustainable Cooling of the University of Birmingham and lead for the ACES unique initiatives, among others.
Prof. Toby Peters (with raised hand) shows the level of reality of establishing the ACES in Kigali, Rwanda
Nick Gibbs (right) and a Rwandan counterpart at ACES launch in Kigali

Src: https://www.ktpress.rw/2024/03/african-centre-of-excellence-for-sustainable-cooling-and-cold-chain-opens-in-kigali/ 

 

Sabiiti Daniel

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