A farmer in New York, Ron Khosla, has invented a solution to Africa’s fruit and vegetable preservation problems.
The CoolBot is a small electrical device that uses an off-the-shelf air conditioner to produce cold air, converting a well-insulated room into a cold room at much lesser cost than that needed to buy a refrigeration unit.
Khosla himself had suffered major fruit and vegetable losses to poor storage and this was the main motivation behind the invention.
“People did not believe that the CoolBot worked at first. But now we get the most amazing letters from people whose business has doubled or quadrupled. Good postharvest care makes such a difference,” Khosla said in an interview.
One CoolBot costs $315 (KSh35,000) on Amazon, while an LG air conditioner costs KSh30,000 in Kenya. The developers are working to make the Coolbot readily available in Kenya.
Horticulture Innovation Lab partner Jane Ambuko of the University of Nairobi received a grant to pilot the device among Kenya’s horticultural farmers and she confirms that it is a game-changer.
"I see the CoolBot making a whole lot of difference," Ambuko said at a past event.
The Coolbot is a welcome invention in Kenya, where it is estimated that up to 50 per cent of horticultural fruits and vegetables are lost between production and retail sites; two to three times the losses reported in developed countries.