The Indian Institute of Horticulture Research (IIHR) has innovated a solar-powered vending van for delivering fresh farm produce and helping struggling farmers across Karnataka during this COVID19 lockdown period. This electric cum solar-powered vending van has been handed over to Horticulture Producers Cooperative Marketing & Processing Societies (HOPCOMS), Karnataka.
This innovative vending van has a 600W solar photovoltaic system and a battery backup of 8 hours to maintain farm produce at 14 degrees Celsius and a constant 98% humidity. This keeps fruits and vegetables fresh for around 38-42 hours, making sure the produce is fresh and hygienic when it reaches consumers. The temperature is maintained by the layout of racks with evaporative cooling coupled with frozen gel packs.
The solar-powered vending van can hold 250-400kg of farm produce and is provided with an electronic weighing machine with computerized billing. During an emergency, the backup battery can be electrically charged. An exhaust fan circulates the air inside while the van is parked at night. The structure was fabricated with SS-304 with 50mm PUF insulation on the side doors. The van is mounted on a Tata Ace diesel-powered vehicle and is GPS enabled to ensure tracking of its whereabouts.
Green leafy vegetables are stored in high humidity storage boxes designed by IIHR. The storage box can store 12-15kg of farm produce and maintain humidity at 98% using an airtight module. These boxes are priced at INR10,000. Each van cost about INR11 to 12 lakhs. As of now, 20 of these solar-powered vending vans are operating in 10 districts with a business turnover of INR14-18,000 per day during this lockdown period.
The IIHR team behind this innovation consists of G Senthil Kumaran, Carolin Rathinakumari the Farm Power and Machinery department, S Bhuvaneswari (Post Harvest Management of Fruits and Vegetables), and Harinder Singh Oberoi (Food process and technology). IIHR has licensed this technology to Waycool Foods & Products Pvt Ltd for commercial production.