Zero Cooling Chamber a Relief to Horticultural Farmers in Mndolera
- Created: Monday, 02 November 2020 17:44
- Published: Monday, 02 November 2020 17:44
…“Before being instructed by AICC agronomists on the use of the Zero Cooling Chamber in September 2019, we were losing a lot of produce every week because of over-ripening at the farm and the produce being stored at an ambient temperature in an open room of our houses,”…
Much of the post-harvest losses of horticultural products in Malawi is due to lack of proper storage facilities. Total horticultural produce is lost during harvest and storage which reduces the growers share. While refrigerated cool stores are the best method of preserving horticultural products, they are expensive to buy and difficult to run especially in rural areas where there is no electricity. Storage of fresh horticultural produce after harvesting is one of the most pressing problems of horticultural farmers in Mndolera EPA. As one way of mitigating the storage problem for horticultural farmers in Mndolera EPA, AICC through CASH project is promoting the use of the Zero Cooling Chamber as one of the better alternative for storage of horticultural produce.
Zero cooling chamber is an on-farm rural oriented storage structure which operates on the principle of evaporative cooling and is constructed using locally available raw materials such as bricks, sand, bamboo, rice straw, vetiver grass, etc. The chamber is constructed above the ground and comprises of a double walled structure made up of bricks. The cavity of the double wall is filled with riverbed sand. The upper part of the chamber is covered with vetiver grass mat on a bamboo/tree frame. Zero cooling chamber is a double wall structure having space between the walls which is filled with porous water absorbing materials like sand or charcoal. The charcoal or sand is kept constantly wet by applying water. When unsaturated air passes through wet sand/charcoal, transfer of mass and heat takes place and the energy for the evaporation process comes from the air stream, hence cooling the produce.
Picture illustrating horticultural products in a zero cooling chamber.
“Before being instructed by AICC agronomists on the use of the Zero Cooling Chamber in September 2020, we were losing a lot of produce every week because of over-ripening at the farm and the produce being stored at an ambient temperature in an open room of our houses,” stated Margret Petulo, a host farmer of Talandira incubator and one of several hundred of farmers benefiting from the project.