In most developing nations, women contribute 60-80% of food production and form a significant portion of the agriculture workforce. Yet, these women encounter persistent hurdles in accessing resources, finance, and technology. Gender disparities impact crop yields, and equalizing access could enhance production by up to 30%, potentially rescuing 150 million people from starvation. With increasing temperatures threatening crop quality, these challenges are intensified, especially affecting female farmers who are compelled into distress selling.
In India, food loss due to the lack of a proper cold chain results in income loss and unnecessary carbon emissions. The innovative 'Your Virtual Cold Chain Assistant' (Your VCCA) Initiative tackles this issue by providing smallholder farmers, especially women, access to sustainable cooling and digital tools. Solar energy is central to this initiative, which employs solar-powered cold rooms adopting a "Cooling as a Service" (CaaS) model. The use of renewable energy ensures both energy efficiency and eco-friendly post-harvest cooling, further signifying the potential of SDG7 (affordable and clean energy) in supporting SDG 2 (zero hunger) by facilitating sustainable agriculture and increasing food security.
Digitalization is another catalyst in the success of Your VCCA. The program utilizes "Coldtivate", an application, to streamline inventory management and operations and build trust among farmers in post-harvest cooling. Real-time temperature sensor data, incorporated into Coldtivate, estimates the remaining storage life of each crate, enabling farmers to preserve crop quality effectively. The app also provides market price predictions, empowering farmers to make informed selling decisions. This program engaged local women in managing operations and finances using digital tools, enhancing cultural accessibility and overcoming gender-related barriers for female farmers in utilizing the resource.
VCCA’s unique approach sets a global example for agro-based economies and exemplifies the potential of combining renewable energy, digitalization, and a gender-focused approach to advance progress towards various Sustainable Development Goals, thereby fostering a more sustainable and equitable future for the energy and agricultural sectors.
Read the full SEH Bulletin Issue 5.