CREdO Projects

NC State is currently implementing three projects focused on African Indigenous Vegetables (AIV) value chain in Kenya under its Connecting Research, Education, and Outreach (CREdO) framework with the overarching aim of increasing agricultural innovation and economic development in rural communities.

Solar Cold Storage Design for Reliable Supply of African Indigenous Vegetables (AIV) Orange- Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) in Kenya

The project, funded by USDA-FAS, aims to establish the economic viability of a large-scale, solar-powered storage facility as well as container style solar powered cold storage facility to provide year-round supply of quality OFSP roots to major fresh root markets and processors in Nairobi, Kenya.

This is a proof-of-concept project for designing completely off-the-grid and battery free solar powered cold storage, providing technical assistance for site selection of cold storage installation, and training local operators for its usage. Its off-grid feature is very crucial for places that are plagued by unreliable power supply but still need reliable cold storage solutions for agriculture produce.

International Potato Center (CIP) located in Nairobi and Agricontrol Technologies (ACT/BTU) located in the US are providing technical backstopping for the project and developing the training modules. ACT/BTU has provided their industry expertise, especially technical specifications, that are pertinent for sweet potato storage, to the manufacturer. In addition to sharing their expertise they will also be supplying the manufacturer with 3 units of US manufactured sensors that will be used in the cold storage units.

Solar Powered Cold Storage Deployment in Kenya

This USDA-FAS funded project will facilitate the purchase and installation of two solar powered cold storage, developed through the Solar Cold Storage Design – proof of concept project, with the goal of using them for storing sweet potato, African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs), onions, and any other economically important crops. For this project, NC State is working with Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) who will help with identifying local partners for managing and operating the cold storage facilities and test two modes of operation of the facilities.

NC State and KALRO will work with producers and growers’ associations in the Kisii and Kakamega counties to ensure supply of sweet potato roots, onions, and AIVs for further processing and/or fresh consumption. In addition to improving shelf life and quality of root qualities, having access to cold storage containers will open up multiple market opportunities for local growers. Produce aggregated at the units will provide supply of OFSP, AIVs, and other vegetables to the school meal programs in the two counties, creating a new market for their produce in the locations. Additionally, they will be able to aggregate their produce either individually or through growers’ association to sell to wholesalers or urban markets at a higher prices. Alternatively, they could also sell their products to be processed into value added products, resulting in higher income for growers. The facilities can also be used to store other economically important agriculture products such as onions and imported agriculture products.

NC State faculty members have already visited Kenya once to explore the two sites where the cold storage units will be installed and met with KALRO teams who will be assisting with managing and operating the cold storage facilities. You can read more about the trip here.


Enhancing Productivity, Post-Harvest Management and Market Access of African Indigenous Vegetables (AIV) in Kenya

This USAID funded project aims to increase productivity, reduce post-harvest losses and enhance market access of AIVs for improved livelihoods of value chain actors, specifically smallholder women and youth farmers.

The project team based in Kenya and the US will (i) establish, quantify and address critical sources of pre-harvest losses within the value chain to increase AIVs productivity; (ii) enhance post-harvest management, value addition and safety of AIVs to improve nutrition and dietary diversification in rural and urban households; (iii) strengthen linkages to input and output markets for smallholder farmers, specifically women and youths, and; (iv) build capacity for smallholder farmers and cooperatives on climate-smart technologies, innovations and management practices.

The project will be implemented in Kisii and Kakamega counties, where AIVs are an important enterprise for women. The project will build the capacity of local personnel by training graduate students and key stakeholders and increase incomes for smallholder women farmers and improve nutrition security for Kenyan households.