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Gambian farmers benefit from Sudanese fridge

A zeer pot can keep produce fresh for up to three weeks (Practical Action)
A zeer pot can keep produce fresh for up to three weeks
Practical Action

Over 70 Gambian farmers are reducing post-harvest waste with the use of a simple clay fridge after Qasid Ahmad, a student from Swansea University, began promoting the technology. "The farmers report that they would often waste up to 40 per cent of their fresh produce and had no choice but to sell it for rock bottom prices - as the traders knew that the villagers had no method of storing the quickly rotting goods," Ahmad explains. "Now that they have the desert fridge technology, they can keep the produce fresh until there is a demand for it at market - helping to make a better profit and to waste less food."

The clay fridge, or zeer pot, was first trialled in Sudan in 2001 by non-profit organisation Practical Action. The zeer pot consists of one clay pot inside another, with a layer of wet sand in between which cools the inner pot as the moisture evaporates. Each pot can keep 12 kg of fruit and vegetables fresh for up to three weeks and costs just US$2 to make. Zeer pots "are very good in a hot climate such as ours where fruit and vegetables get spoiled in one day," explains Hawa Abbas, a Sudanese farmer who used to lose half of her crop before using the clay fridge.

After witnessing the success of Ahmad's trial in the Gambia, the Department of State for Community Development have incorporated the desert fridge into their training programmes. Meanwhile, international aid agency Humanity First, who is currently funding the project in the Gambia, is intending to promote the technology across West Africa.

Date published: August 2010


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