FAO in North America

Promoting Cold Chain Solutions for Sustainable Agrifood Systems in Africa

Beth Bechdol, Deputy Director-General at the MCC Headquarters in Washington, DC

15 March 2022, Washington, D.C. - To transform agrifood systems in Africa and worldwide, we need to leverage technology, innovation, and the private sector, said Beth Bechdol, Deputy Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 

Bechdol was providing opening remarks at the “Sustainable Cold Chain Solutions for Africa Summit,” hosted at the Millennium Challenge Corporation headquarters in Washington, D.C, where she was joined by Jocelyn Brown Hall, Director of the FAO Liaison Office for North America. 

Cold chains play a vital role not only in ensuring people can receive enough nutritious food but also in preventing food waste, which in turn can have further positive impacts with a reduction in food shortages and less exposure to food price volatility, added Bechdol. 

The Summit was co-organised by the United Nations Environment Programme’s United for Efficiency initiative (UNEP U4E), the U.S. Department of Agricultural (USDA), the Centre for Sustainable Cooling, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). The aim of the gathering was to identify concrete opportunities for collaboration and investment to enhance the impacts of existing activities on sustainable cold chains in Africa. 

The session also highlighted several landmark initiatives to provide context on progress and challenges in the sector, such as the Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold-Chain (ACES), MCC’s Compact with Lesotho on cold chain, and USDA’s support for farmers in Kenya, among others.

According to FAO, adequate cold chain facilities in Sub–Saharan Africa could prevent the loss of perishable products, which are estimated to be around 25-30 percent for animal products and 40-50 percent for roots, tubers, fruits and vegetables. Therefore accelerating sustainable cold chains in Africa is a necessary step towards achieving food and nutrition security, emphasized Bechdol. 

“The lack of cold chain and other conservation and transformation equipment and processes in Africa, is one of the biggest barriers of further development of the fruit and vegetable value chains in the region,” said Bechdol. 

Cold chains are interwoven in various areas of FAO’s work including value chains, energy, food technologies, packaging, food loss and waste, food safety, and even agrifood systems more broadly. FAO has ongoing partnerships in Africa focusing on agribusiness value chain development such as Agricycle, where the initiative is targeting youth in East Africa to provide capacity development for the adoption of technologies and equipment for fruit and vegetable value chains. On a regular basis, in partnership with the World Bank and IFAD, FAO develops and delivers training and modules on digital technologies for financing equipment involved in cold chains. Furthermore, a joint report from UNEP and FAO on cooling and agrifood value chains is being finalized.


Developing the cold chain in the agrifood sector in Sub-Saharan Africa | FAO