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As Solar Refrigerator Keeps Mangoes Cold, Farmers' Profits Heat Up

03:48 EST 21 Feb 2017 | Meridian Institute

Two new innovations are helping mango farmers in Kenya protect their harvests against the effects of climate change. The first is a solar-powered cold storage facility, which preserves this perishable fruit and stops it from rotting before reaching consumers. The Kenya Department of Agriculture estimates that 30 to 50 percent of harvested mangoes go to waste due to poor post-harvest handling. The storage facility enables smallholder farmers to keep their harvest refrigerated while the search for prospective buyers. Previously, farmers had no such storage, requiring them to sell their fruit to middlemen, who then earned most of the profit. The refrigerator was built in late 2015 by the United States-based Rockefeller Foundation and TechnoServe, a nongovernmental organization. It runs on solar panels, an inverter and a car battery. The second innovation aiding farmers is biological control measures to combat a species of fruit fly that has become a huge problem in Africa due to the warming effects of climate change. John Musomba, a farmer in charge of the refrigerated storehouse, said, "In the past we sprayed chemical pesticides to control the flies, but buyers turned down our produce due to high chemical residues. But since we switched to organic farming, traders are now trooping around here for our fruits.” Mamadou Biteye, the Africa regional managing director for Rockefeller, said the Kenyan government should work to support wider use of these interventions. "Farmers don't make any profit if they lose half of their harvest at the farm level, therefore such policies which facilitate access to finance and technology for farmers are very critical," he said.

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