BASE – Your Virtual Cold Chain Assistant

Access to Capital


Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy (BASE)


Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology)

India is one of the world’s largest food producers, yet 25% to 35% of the food produced is wasted due to a lack of proper refrigeration and other supply chain bottlenecks. Only 6 percent of the food produced in India currently moves through the cold chain, compared to about 60% in developed countries.

To increase the percentage of food supplies saved and support smallholder farmers who make up the bulk of India’s hungry and poor, BASE and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) created Coldtivate, an open access, data science-based mobile application that uses machine learning and physics-based food modeling. Your Virtual Cold-Chain Assistant enables smallholder farmers to access clean and efficient cooling, easy-to-access pre- and post-harvest expertise, and market intelligence serviced by another BASE initiative: Cooling-as-a-Service.

Harnessing the Power of Data:

Inclusive Growth and Recovery Challenge Impact Report

Preliminary data already shows farmers using the cold rooms reduce their food loss by 20 percent and increase the selling price of their produce by 15 percent, all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving food security.

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  1. 1

    Mobile App Launch

    Designed and launched the Coldtivate mobile application with local partners in three pilot regions in India, helping to reduce post-harvest loss for smallholder farmers by leveraging pay-per-use decentralized cold storage and data-driven post-harvest intelligence for food preservation and digital inventory management. Coldtivate enables tracking the shelf-life of produce in real-time and provides a knowledge hub for sharing of information on post-harvest handling and storage.

  2. 2

    Interactive Multi-layered Data Map

    Homogenized the open-sourced data collected in the project (census, climate, market prices, cropland maps) into a geospatial format for better visualization on a single map via Google Earth Engine, available on the project website This application upcycles already available open-source data and empowers technology providers to make informed decisions to serve more farmers and expand their business. For example, data layers about shelf-life provide insights into different crops and suitable locations to install new
    cold rooms.

  3. 3

    Capacity Bridging and Increased Awareness

    Conducted in-person training sessions with more than 300 farmers during field trips; surveyed over 800 farmers and traders; and developed a comprehensive interdisciplinary capacity-bridging toolkit for operators and cooling users. The toolkit is being transferred into creative formats using simple language to make them accessible to farmers, such as comic strips and videos, in addition to being accessible via the Coldtivate app.

Looking Ahead

BASE secured additional funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, launching replication of the solution in Nigeria in collaboration with ColdHubs, a cold storage provider based in Nigeria. BASE also launched the “Your Virtual Cold Chain Assistant Incubator” to train five additional companies around the world to adopt the solution.

Download the report

Through the project Your Virtual Cold-Chain Assistant, BASE and Empa are enabling smallholder farmers to access sustainable cooling for their produce on a pay-per-use basis, facilitated by the Coldtivate app, an open access, data science-based mobile application that uses machine learning and physics-based food modeling to help farmers maximize their harvests and reduce waste.