March 21, 2023


Aboitiz Group launches Fresh Depot cold storage project for smallholder farmers



The Aboitiz Group has launched Fresh Depot, a physical and digital solutions platform for farmers in the Philippines that aims to optimise their yield and income while reducing waste, SunStar reported.


The initial phase involves the testing of a modular and eco-friendly cold storage facility in Mankayan, Benguet.


Sabin Aboitiz, chief executive officer and president of Aboitiz Group, said it is important to improve the local agricultural sector and support farmers, in order to strengthen the food supply chain and reduce dependence on imports.


Aboitiz said Fresh Depot is one of many projects the company is working on.


A study conducted by the Institute of Food Science and Technology at the University of the Philippines Los Banos found that around 42% of locally produced crops are spoiled before they can be consumed. This has negative consequences for farmers, consumers, and other players in the supply chain.


In the Philippines, cold storage facilities are mainly situated near urban areas and intended for frozen products like meat, which are not ideal for farmers. Farmers require affordable and farm-level cooling facilities for their crops.


Fresh Depot's second phase will not only provide sustainable modular cold storage, but also digitise farmers' land, planting practices, and pre-harvest, harvest, and market information. By digitising, Fresh Depot can offer advisory services, market linkage opportunities, financial inclusion programmes, and create a database that the government can use for agricultural programmes.


The pilot programme will run for three to six months. If proven viable, Aboitiz plans to expand Fresh Depot to other farm locations in the Philippines. Ultimately, Fresh Depot aims to assist the government in empowering millions of farmers.


Fresh Depot has partnered with the Manpat-A Farmers Association of Mankayan, with the support of government units and agencies, to establish its first pilot site for the cold storage unit. The Benguet region is known for producing high-quality highland crops and is home to thousands of farmers.


To execute its pilot project, Fresh Depot is collaborating with two leading international agri-tech companies: Ecozen Solutions, which is supported by the Nuveen global impact fund in the USA and the Exim Bank of the Government of India, and Cropin Technology Solutions, which has Impact Assets Singapore as one of its investors.


Ecozen has developed the modular hybrid cold storage unit, Ecofrost, which incorporates climate-smart deep tech to leverage solar energy and has a proprietary technology for battery-less backup. Once pre-cooled, Ecofrost ensures that fresh produce is market-ready 24/7.


Cropin provides farm monitoring and management services, as well as a user-friendly communication platform that connects farmers, agribusinesses, and field officers, and aids in digitising farm operations. The company is renowned for creating the world's first industry cloud for agriculture, Cropin Cloud, which operates in 92 countries and enables informed decision-making that enhances farming efficiency, productivity, risk management, environmental sustainability, and sustainability.


These individual solutions have been successfully tested in other developing countries, such as India, Kenya, and Nigeria.


Fresh Depot has been chosen to participate in a three-month international incubator programme by the Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy (BASE), a Swiss foundation and specialized partner of the United Nations Environment. Fresh Depot was selected along with four other global companies that offer decentralised solar-powered cooling solutions to farmers on a pay-per-use basis, rather than traditional methods. Through the incubator programme, Fresh Depot will receive support in digitising inventory management and real-time monitoring of stored crop shelf-life through an app.


-      SunStar

Video >

Follow Us