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Indian farmers turn to solar-powered fridges to fight food waste

For Indian farmer Lalmuankimi Bawitlung, selling her annual orange harvest is often a race against time to beat the heat.

Lalmuankimi's prospects are brighter since the state government in January installed a 10-tonne solar-powered cold storage unit for farm produce in the nearby village of Khawzawl.

The Mizoram Science, Technology & Innovation Council worked with cold chain company Inficold to set up the 2.2 million-rupee facility, which is open to about 235 farmers such as Lalmuankimi across several villages in the area.

India is enduring ever-more extreme weather - from floods to droughts - and rising temperatures due to climate change, with farmers increasingly worried about their crops and wastage.

Inficold currently has 116 facilities across 19 Indian states that provide storage for about 25,000 farmers, and the firm plans to double the number of units next year, Goel said.

Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Khawzawl, an agricultural science centre funded by the federal government, is helping the farmers and training them on how best to keep their produce to prolong its shelf life and ensure it stays as fresh as possible.

"The technology is helping farmers to be resilient to climate impacts and empowering them in their fields and market as well," said KVK project associate Isaac Lalremruata.

For the farmers in the area - who also grow pineapple, kiwi and papaya - cold storage affords them a "Back-up of four to five days" as the systems can keep running for that period of time even where there is not much sunshine, Dantes said.

The farmers said having the "Climate solution at our own local level" had more than doubled their incomes, together with apps showing market prices to determine the best time to sell.

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