About one third (approximately 1.3 billion tonnes) of the food produced globally for human consumption gets lost or wasted annually. And in developing countries like Nigeria, 40% of those losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels.
These are mostly due to improper handling and poor storage facilities for perishable goods. This leads to price hikes of the available ones and food scarcity. 22.8% of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa is affected by this scarcity.
These massive losses in the food value chain could be greatly averted if only there were proper and affordable cold chain solutions in place. These solutions provide a controlled temperature system between production and distribution, thus preserving produced goods until they are accessed by the consumer.
Such solutions are not only needed in the agricultural sector but also in healthcare. Cold chain solutions are essential in the preservation of temperature-sensitive products such as blood, vaccines, and medications.
According to available stats, 19.4 million infants do not receive routine immunisation due to inadequate cold chain facility during transportation and storage. About 1.5 million annual deaths could be prevented continue to occur.
Enters this startup that is filling the void with a very hands-on solution to the problem.
Gricd Frij is an Internet of Things (IoT) startup that has developed a cold chain solution for the storage and transportation of vaccines, blood and agricultural products. Founded by CEO Oghenetega Iortim, the startup has made a cold-storage device embedded with real-time storage temperature (as low as 20-degree Celsius) that can be controlled remotely via a mobile or web application.
The device is fitted with a location monitoring technology and has a battery which lasts about 48 hours. It is small enough to fit in a custom made backpack for easy transportation. This is a massive step forward when compared to the conventional means of refrigerators and ice packs in cooler boxes.
The current box model is, however, only suited for the storage and transportation of temperature-sensitive healthcare products – this is largely because of its size. And already, its has been adopted by the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research Lagos for the transportation of laboratory samples, and some other businesses which rely on cold chain supply.
At its current size though, a farmer will hardly find any need for the product. Which is why according to Oghenetega in an interview with Techcabal, the startup is working on scaling the current solution to accommodate “larger, more economical models for farmers.”
Scaling will pit the startup against already operating cold-chain solutions for agriculture, including Coldhubs, APMTerminals, Coating+ and YieldWise.
And the startup might just have all it needs for such scale. Gricd frij was a part of the first cohort of FbStart Accelerator where it received equity-free funding of up to $20,000 and technical and business support from Facebook.
In May this year, the startup also emerged winner of Africa Fintech Foundry’s (AFF) startup pitch competition in which they were given a $10,000 in funding. Currently, the startup is on a Co-Creation Hub PitchDrive II tour across 5 cities in the robust Asian hardware market.
This presents opportunities for the startup as it will be able to connect with top corporate organisations like Transsion Holdings, Google Korea, Samsung C & T, Yamaha and hopefully clinch investments or partnerships.
Nevertheless, the solution is laudable and would greatly help across the various sectors it will be utilised.