Virtual cold chain assistant for smallholder farmers


The measure aims to

  • adapt and test a climate-sensitive virtual cold chain assistant
  • improve access to and use of climate-friendly cooling systems
  • develop gender-sensible business models to increase the income of smallholder farmers and local SMEs
  • reduce post-harvest losses

In figures:

  • 15 % more income for producers
  • 10 % more turnover of SMEs
  • 50 % less CO2 emissions
  • 20 % less post-harvest losses for producers


The virtual cold chain assistant is a tailor-made open-source app which is added on to local cooling systems.​ The App optimises the use of local cooling systems for smallholder farmers – made accessible to them via a fee-financed service model.

In Cooperation with The Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy (BASE) and The Swiss Federal Labs for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) the measure pilots the use of a “virtual cold chain assistant” in Nigeria and scales the innovation in cooperation with GIZ´s Green Innovation Centres for the Agriculture and Food Sector (GIAE) in India, amongst others. The open-access application informs smallholder farms in real time which refrigeration services are available for their products, how their products can be ideally stored and when they can be sold at the best possible market prices.

At the same time, it informs the technology provider about the ideal utilisation of the system, thus reducing technical malfunctions and necessary repairs. In combination with a charging model for refrigeration services and the use of energy-efficient technologies, the climate-sensitive virtual cold chain assistant offers the potential to efficiently match supply and demand for refrigeration services. Refrigeration services are made available through a fee-for-service model, where smallholder clients pay only for the amount of agricultural produce they store in the cold rooms.


  • Testing of the virtual cold chain assistant primarily in Nigeria and furthermore scaling it in conjunction with an incubator and a virtual platform in cooperation with GIZ´s GIAE in India.
  • An accompanying gender strategy developed and implemented by the partners ensures that women are empowered in their position as producers, employees or entrepreneurs.


  • smallholder farms with limited access to cooling systems
  • local SMEs that provide cooling services


  • Creation, validation and calibration of the virtual cold chain assistant and identification of appropriate measures to adapt the cooling-as-a-service model.
  • Testing of the climate-sensitive virtual cold chain assistant in 2 regions of Nigeria.
  • Establishing partner structures with further projects, especially in India with GIAE
  • Establishing a business incubator
  • Advising and supporting companies in developing gender-sensitive business models and adapting the cold chain assistant
  • Advising small and medium-sized enterprises on the choice of energy-efficient technologies
  • Development and adaptation of a measurement method/standard to determine the CO2 emissions of cooling systems and to determine post-harvest losses
  • Survey and monitoring of energy consumption per tonne of agricultural products
  • Launch of a virtual information platform and implementation of virtual event formats
  • Cooperation with and financing of agricultural extension services for the implementation of awareness-raising measures for smallholder farmers.




Nigeria , India , Global


Aug 2021 - Jul 2024

Commission Agency