Dearman, a technology company delivering zero-emission, clean cooling and power solutions, has launched a new project aimed at reducing wasted harvests in South Africa. The project is backed by grant funds from the Department for International Development.

Food waste in South Africa is estimated to be worth R86,5 billion annually, half of which occurs in the fruit and vegetable sector. Low farmer income makes access to cooling technology difficult.

Dearman’s 24-month project seeks to develop a mobile pre-cooling system, using the company’s ground-breaking liquid-nitrogen engine. The Dearman technology is the basis for a suite of zero-emission power and cooling solutions being developed by the company, which have applications across transport and the built environment.

Working with local partners Transfrig, a cold-chain operator, and Harvest Fresh, a family owned food producer based in Gauteng, Dearman will develop a mobile, off-grid, zero-emission system that allows small farmers to access affordable pre-cooling.

Pre-cooling rapidly reduces the temperature of produce immediately after harvest, to ensure minimal post-harvest food loss.

The fruit and vegetable pre-cooling market is estimated to be worth R1,34 billion across Africa. Dearman’s project seeks to deliver a successful technology demonstration, including a six-month field trial, and set out a viable route for wider commercial deployment of the pre-cooling system.

The company estimates that deploying just 250 Dearman pre-coolers in South Africa would be enough to process the 350 000 t of fruit and vegetables that are wasted during post-harvest handling and storage.

Additional impacts would include saving 328-million cubic metres of water and 29 000 hectares of land also currently wasted, as well as boosting farmers’ incomes by 12 percent.

Daniel Fennell, Dearman’s head of new applications, says: “We’re very excited to be launching our new project in South Africa. Small farmers in the country want an affordable and clean pre-cooling system. The zero-emission system we are developing can offer a real alternative to polluting, expensive diesel systems and help to reduce post-harvest food loss.”

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