Stakeholders Proffer Solutions to Postharvest Losses in Agric Sector

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Segun James

As part of efforts to minimise postharvest losses associated with movement of fruits and farm produce from the farm to the market place, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and other bodies from different sectors of the economy have suggested the use of collapsible plastic crates for the transportation of fruits and produce as against the raffia palms being used presently.

The Senior Project Manager, Agriculture and Nutrition Programme at GAIN, Dr. Augustine Okoruwa stated this in Lagos at the PLAN Nigeria Crating workshop.

According to him, “The initiative was to stop the damages of agricultural produce caused by the use of baskets and raffia which may lead to biological infection and contamination of the produce”.

Okoruwa told participants at the workshop that the adoption of Returnable Plastic Crates (RPCs) for storage and transporting of agricultural produce across the country will not only help to minimise losses, but save costs in the long run.

He stressed that the RPCs as “very hygienic and rigid, prevents fruit damage and compression and improves fruit ventilation”, adding, ”PLAN therefore in partnership with other stakeholders aim at building a business model to address the adoption and promotion of RPCs”.

Okoruwa explained that the motive for the use of RPCs is to replace the worrisome use of raffia baskets, which accounts for more than 45 percent loss of fruits and vegetables produced in Nigeria, while also disclosing that the initiative will give room for the concept of exploring workable models, incentives for lending, leasing and owning RPCs, and maximisation of profits for investors and active players in the agriculture industry.

The GAIN’s Postharvest Loss Alliance for Nutrition (PLAN) project identified the use of proper crating and packaging in the handling of fresh fruits and vegetables (FFVs) as one of the interventions required to reduce postharvest losses during their aggregation, transportation, distribution and storage in Nigeria.

PLAN intends to explore the models, trade-offs and incentives for lending, leasing and owning returnable plastic crates (RPCs) along the tomato supply chain (as well as other fresh fruits and vegetables).

This workshop which was organised in collaboration with Rockefeller Foundation, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG) is intended to engage representatives of farmers/farmer associations, raffia basket sellers/dealers, other aggregation centres and operators, transporters, cold chain logistics/warehousing operators, Federal and States Ministries of Agriculture, RPC manufacturers, banks and finance experts, insurance experts and the market/trade associations. Participants included representatives of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), companies using farm produce and fruits as part of their manufacturing base, plastic crates manufacturers, Banks, Insurance companies, business outfits and farmers.