Photo: The writer - Photo: 2013

Huge Global Post-Harvest Losses Are Avoidable

By Bruce H. Rubin* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

LANSDALE, Pennsylvania (IDN) – In today’s world of growing populations and food needs, we are revisiting, with respect to agriculture, the old adage “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” However, too often in the developing world, we are letting the newly-educated man down by not providing him with infrastructure needed to save, sell, or transport what he grows.

India, Africa, Latin America and other developing regions continue to face crippling hunger and poverty rates. Despite the consistent production of agricultural products, the post-harvest loss rate for fruits and vegetables hovers around 40% and has remained there for years, undermining the ability of local farmers to feed their countrymen and develop exports. The total spoilage of post-harvest loss hovers around 1.3 billion tons.

Some important facts and figures:

  • In India only 2% of products are temperature controlled
  • Post-harvest losses cost China at least $6 billion per year and Pakistan $1 billion
  • In Panama post-harvest losses approach 60 %
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, post-harvest losses of horticultural crops range from 30 percent to an astonishing 80 percent.

To address this world-wide problem of spoilage and to improve the potential for developing countries to feed their populations, Nenko Advisors International, LLC has developed a concept unique in concept and implementation: ‘RASP’.

What is RASP?

RASP is an off-the-grid, alternative energy, agricultural cold storage facility aimed at preventing post-harvest loss of fruits and vegetables worldwide.  With RASP, we combine the latest in cold storage manufacturing technology and control with a unique solar power system using concentrated sunlight as the energy source.

Using electronically integrated systems, combined with proprietary control units, RASP produces a cold storage product potentially capable of dramatically reducing the loss of fruits and vegetables in the developing economies of the world. This high performance solar technology not only makes a smaller footprint than competing technologies, it is time tested in the field and has met the stringent technology requirements of the United States Department of Defense.

The RASP cold room can be located at any point in the supply chain, from the farm, to the village, to the export center. The current service life of this power system is projected to be 25 years.

The  RASPcold room is planned to be a minimum of 24 ft x 10 ft x 8 ft. but scalable to meet the needs of each geogrphical area and can become part of a complete hub and spoke distribution and storage system.

The entire system, which includes the solar power arrays, battery storage banks, control units and cold room, can be easily assembled in a matter of days by a small team of semi-skilled workers.

The amount of crops that can be stored in each RASP unit is estimated at a minimum of 10 metric tons, with scalability to larger capacities possible and anticipated.

RASP supplies the missing link in the cold chain with ease of deployment, cost effectiveness, ease of operation, low maintenance, scalability and the ability to be remotely controlled and monitored.

It also has the potential to allow farmers globally to maximize their crop production by utilizing all of the land that they have available to plant.  RASP will allow farmers to harvest crops when they are at the right time to be harvested and therefore maximizing the potential for income. In many cases our research shows that crops are picked when the “middle man” is coming not when the farmer should.

When fully deployed, RASP should dramatically increase the amount of cold storage available worldwide and can play a key role in solving the puzzle of reducing world-wide crop spoilage.

What Next?

The developers of RASP are seeking $1 Million to erect its demonstration unit in the US and this number pales in comparison to the following statistics found on

There over 896 million people in the world who are undernourished.  Over $4.5 million is spent on daily subsistence food aid, which represents over $1.97 billion per year.  The $1.97 billion would pay for over 10,600 RASP units, which in turn could feed many more people and by using local products rather than imported crops.

Despite the projected benefits from the implementation of RASP, the product remains unfunded.  Certainly not from the lack of trying.

Over the last twenty months, the partners of RASP have been turned down by major foundations, venture capital and angel funds, and USAID.

The foundations that have said NO include, The Gates Foundation, The Howard Buffet Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Soros Foundation, The WalMart Foundation, The PepsiCo Foundation, The MacArthur Foundation, and other less well-known groups. In some cases we were not ever replied to after a number of follow up emails.

The reasons we have received from foundations include:

  • Not funding post-harvet loss or horticultural product projects at this time
  • RASP is too early in development
  • RASP does not fit into the food security solutions we are funding.

We have been turned down by tens of venture and angel funders who have given us similar answers to those stated above plus responses that we were not asking for enough money, we are setting a unit-price too high, or we are proposing profit margins that are too high or too low.

The RASP team once the demonstration is built will show the potential customers we have that our solution can truly help feed the world and truly make “fishermen” out of every farmer globally.

The world needs to stop studies and investigations and programs on growing more but needs to invest in solutions like RASP that focus on saving what is already grown, provides access to more income for farmers globally, and improving the infrasturure in those areas of the world that need it the most.

*Bruce H. Rubin heads the Nenko Advisors International, LLC. He has over thirty years experience in product development taking projects from concept through sourcing, costing, pricing, the supply chain process to final sales. He has worked with sources and partners globally from Europe to the Far East. [IDN-InDepthNews – November 15, 2013]

Related IDN article: Battle Against Post-harvest Losses Can Be Won

2013 IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters

Photo: The writer

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