Sharing good ideas: boxes, valves or refrigerators
Traditionally, farming families in Bangladesh transport the tomatoes they grow on their farm to the markets in large mesh bags. The result? Many of the tomatoes arrive damaged at the point of sale. If there are any tomatoes left over at the end of the day, the journey home will be another opportunity to continue losing fresh food unnecessarily.
FAO wondered how to help families with small agricultural holdings to solve problems like this and found technology to be a great ally. Yes, digital technology. But we are not talking about drones to diagnose the state of a crop or applications to control the water stress of crops, but plans for tools and equipment that are made available to local farmers for them to make them themselves. A proposal as simple as it is effective.
13,000 downloads: The secret of a wooden box
We are talking, for example, about a multi-purpose wooden box. It is a simple construction tool that farming families can manufacture with things they have at hand, helping themselves by following the appropriate plans and indications. Thus, the box they have built would allow them to take their tomatoes to the market in better conditions, avoiding losses and minimising waste. In fact, the same box can be used for transport, handling, storage and display of products for retail sale, also eliminating the need to move products from one box to another.
For some, this wooden box may not be of great value, but in the reality of many people in this planet, a tool like this facilitates the post-harvest handling of fruits and vegetables, preventing food damage and limiting food waste. Proof of its effectiveness is that this design, proposed by FAO, is very popular in the markets of Sudan and Thailand. It is not only practical, it is also easy to manufacture. In fact, their designs have been downloaded 13,000 times in less than two years and it is estimated that, in some South and South-East Asian countries, the use of these boxes for transport has reduced losses of vegetables and fruit by up to 87% and helped reduce the use of single-use plastic bags.
What are we building today? Irrigation, transport, refrigeration
The wooden boxes have multiplied. But they are by no means the only tool whose design plan is available. FAO has included in this service multiple tools ranging from food storage wrappers to valves for irrigation systems or photovoltaic panels. One of the latest designs added to the platform is a containerised milk cooling centre. In general, these are tools that FAO itself uses in the projects it promotes throughout the planet.
Would you like to see the designs that are helping to improve farmers’ livelihoods and our food systems? Click here to see them.