By Ugo Aliogo
As the efforts to position the Nigeria’s agricultural sector to become one of the leading players in food production in world continue, experts have called on the federal government to tackle the level of wastage of agricultural produce usually experienced from distribution to the marketplace and develop innovative ways to preserve them.
Speaking during the inauguration of Fruits2go café, the Chief Executive Officer of the café, Tosan Kukoyi, said government should focus on the end product value chain, as a lot of wastages are being experienced from the farm to the market.
According to her, the wastage is huge and government has not provided facilities to preserve these agriculture produce.
She also stated that if government encourages more people and provide the necessary support, most of the agricultural produce will be better preserved thereby reduce the reliance on imported foods which she noted is most preferred by Nigerians despite the preservatives it contains, “most of these imported products contain products that are not healthy for the body.”
Kukoyi, who stated that there is need for more people to go into farming, commended government’s efforts in positioning sector, adding that Nigerians should create innovations regarding ways of preserving and packaging agriculture products.
Speaking on the café, she said the cafe was a healthy alternative to eateries in Lagos and they are focused on wholeness, noting that the products used are locally sourced in order to provide space in the healthy food options segment where every member of the family can have a good meal, snack or drink.
Kukoyi said the brand is targeted at children because there are no smoothies’ stores or café targeted children, while stressing that they have taken their services a step further to schools to package healthy lunch for school pupils.
She added: “The school authorities have also given us the opportunity to talk with the parents of these kids on the importance of eating right and not compromising with the cheaper alternatives that are in the market. Parents are excited to bring their children here because of what we are offering such as the popsicles which looks like ice-cream, but it is made from pineapple fruits and other fruit addition. The parents of these pupils reach an agreement with us and they pay for the lunch we serve their pupils, on a term basis. We have covered two major schools.
“Children love our smoothies and juices. We are creating excitement for our customers and still focused on the core of the business. We have juices, and healthy Yogurts made without preservatives. We only persevere these Yogurts with refrigeration. This is the first branch, but we are looking at opening four other locations in 2017.
“Government should evaluate the agricultural value chain, the players and know where the challenges are coming from, then address it. I think the challenge before the administration facing is implementation. For private entrepreneurs, we will try our best to set the stage, within our capacity. The bank is not helping us with the interest rates they are giving. It is difficult if you don’t have funds. There should more credit facilities to encourage entrepreneurs.”