Welcome to Smallholder Fortunes-Thermogenn
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High-performance, off-grid, evaporative cooling
Smallholder Fortunes and Thermogenn have developed high-performance, off-grid, evaporative coolers to expand smallholder farmers' marketable dairy products in sub-Saharan Africa. Smallholders are rural, small-acreage farmers found predominantly in Africa and Asia who have both crops and animals. These small farmers are the primary beneficiaries of our research and technology.
Background: The dairy market in sub-Saharan African countries is separated into two main channels: an informal channel and a formal channel. The formal channel includes milk collected from the farmers, cooled at bulking centers, and then transported to public or private central processing facilities where it is processed, packaged and marketed locally or exported to neighboring countries. The informal channel includes milk that is marketed directly from the farms, usually without any processing.
Using Uganda as an example, the informal channel commands nearly three quarters of the market. In the informal channel, most of the morning milk collected on the farm is either sold to local or peri-urban markets or private collection centers that in turn sell directly to the urban public without any processing. Transportation to collection centers or urban markets is often done on foot, on the back of a bicycle, or by public means. Once the milk reaches the market, it is sold as is to the consumer. The morning milk can be taken to markets because it is daytime and people can safely travel on roads. Since traveling at night might be unsafe and milk is highly perishable and cannot be kept until the next day without preservation, the evening milk is used for the farmer's family and the surplus is either sold where a local market exists, processed into low value products like ghee, or wasted.
In Uganda, the postharvest losses, estimated at 50% of milk produced in the rainy season, are unacceptable. The refrigeration option is not available to most smallholder dairy farmers, as they do not have access to grid electricity and kerosene refrigerators are not economical. The wasted fraction of the afternoon milk is a key contribution to the overall high postharvest losses in sub-Saharan Africa. The postharvest loss has social and economic implications. The loss of the potential income for the smallholders means that they have less money to spend to support their children in school or to pay for necessary consumer goods like soap, and as such the soap manufacturing industry cannot realize its full potential and cannot create more jobs. So, the number of people affected by this loss goes beyond the smallholders. Thermogenn has developed a renewable, energy-powered, evaporative cooling solution that saves the farmers' evening milk.
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