According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), up to 40 percent of the cereals, vegetables, fruit and dairy products produced in developing countries spoil before they can be put to market. These losses hit smallholders especially hard and endanger their livelihoods. One reason for these losses is the lack of an available and affordable cold chain. Cooling methods that rely on decentralised renewable energies can provide a cost-effective remedy here. However, there is a lack of well-trained technicians in rural areas of Kenya who can install, operate and maintain solar cooling systems.
In order to train skilled professionals in planning, designing, installing and maintaining small-scale solar cooling systems, the project’s partners developed a training course. This five-day course includes all aspects of small-scale solar cooling. Over the next four years, approximately 300 technicians will be trained this way. The project thus promotes the development of a new economic sector and offers opportunities, especially for young people.
The cooperating partners in this project are the Strathmore Energy Research Centre (SERC) and the Institute of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Hohenheim (UHoh). The latter has been conducting research on small-scale solar cooling systems since 2013, and the SERC Technology Centre has trained more than 1,000 solar technicians in recent years and therefore possesses a great deal of experience in this area.
The five-day training program follows a practice-oriented approach. The curriculum includes the technical requirements for cooling agricultural products, provides information on panel sizes and components, shows how to calculate their size and how to insulate the systems as efficiently as possible. Moreover, participants also learn how to assess promising business models for small-scale solar cooling concepts in different agricultural value chains. The project partners will develop the necessary curriculum and training materials. In addition, a mobile solar training facility will be used for a hands-on training. By means of a Training of Trainer programme, the UHoh will provide further trainings for instructors from SERC. As soon as these are available, the course package will be made available to other institutions to conduct these trainings at a low cost.