David Gatende
Davis & Shirtliff Group
Steca DC

Milk coolers to cut post-harvest losses

Small scale dairy farmers will benefit from a new solar-powered milk cooling system that is simple and affordable. The cooler, is an assembly of a Steca DC refrigerator equipped with an adaptive controller that converts the refrigerator to a smart ice-maker when powered on solar energy.

“The smart ice-maker has a capacity of 160 litres and can produce up to 13 kilos of ice a day. The systems are supplied with 25, 2kg capacity reusable plastic containers, and two, 30 litre insulated milk cans with removable ice compartment.

The system is powered by 600 Watt peak (Wp) solar PV modules and two batteries with a total capacity of around 1.5kWh,” says Davis & Shirtliff Group CEO David Gatende.

Small scale dairy farmers who produce between 5 to 30 litres a day are the main targets of this innovation. The innovation was borne from the need to reduce losses that small scale dairy farmers incur due to poor storage.

“Milk produced by small scale farmers, in most of the cases, is transported to collection points without any form of cooling. Lack of proper hygiene and cleaning procedures introduces bacteria in the milk which grows quickly during the short-term storage on the farm and during transport.

“Under warm climatic conditions, the bacteria in the milk can exceed the maximum count prescribed by food safety laws after about two to five hours. This leads to high rejection of milk at the collection centres or at the dairy plants,” says Mr Gatende. Additionally, evening milk is also not collected hence causing additional on-farm losses.

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“The purpose of this system is to improve the milk quality and hence reduce the farmers’ loss. A small scale solar powered milk cooling system therefore is an important inclusion which can support the milk value chain at the farm,” he adds.

With milk production being at an all-time high and with the government having stopped the importation of powder milk, investment groups can benefit from this innovation.

Investment groups can purchase the system and develop a business model where they offer small scale farmers the milk cooling service or sell ice. This will create revenues streams for the investors, employment to the masses and increased milk production hence more household income.

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