FG, OPS Commit to Addressing Post-harvest Losses with Cold Chain Technology

FG, OPS Commit to Addressing Post-harvest Losses with Cold Chain Technology

Gilbert Ekugbe

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and the organised private sector (OPS) have announced plans to strengthen partnerships and collaborations in their bid to address post-harvest losses in the country by deploying cold chain technology.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Abubakar Kyari, yesterday, at the opening ceremony of the sixth West African cold chain summit and exhibition, lamented that post-harvest losses remained a pressing concern in Nigeria, with estimates suggesting that up to 40 per cent of Nigeria’s agricultural produce was being lost annually due to inadequate storage and transportation facilities.

According to him, the alarming statistics represented not only a substantial economic loss to farmers, but also posed a grave threat to food security and nutrition in the nation.

The Minister pointed out that cold chain infrastructure, encompassing refrigeration, transportation and storage facilities, plays a crucial role in preserving the quality and nutritional value of agricultural produce from farm to fork, stressing that the Nigerian government was committed to fostering partnerships and collaborations with both public and private stakeholders to strengthen Nigeria’s cold chain networks.

He bemoaned that despite Nigeria’s agricultural abundance, millions of Nigerians continue to suffer from food insecurity and malnutrition, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and deprivation.

“As we strive to build a resilient cold chain infrastructure, we must also prioritise interventions aimed at improving access to nutritious food, promoting dietary diversity, and addressing the underlying determinants of malnutrition,” he said.

He added, “As we convene to deliberate on the challenges and opportunities within the cold chain sector, it is imperative to underscore the pivotal role that cold chain infrastructure plays in safeguarding the integrity of our agricultural produce and ensuring food security for our populace.

“Nigeria, like many other West African nations, grapples with significant post-harvest losses, exacerbated by inadequate cold chain facilities and inefficient supply chain systems.”

He opined that Nigeria’s journey towards achieving a resilient and inclusive cold chain ecosystem still has a long way to go, stating the urgent need to redouble its efforts to bridge existing infrastructure gaps, foster public-private partnerships, and harness innovative technologies to optimise cold chain operations.

“By leveraging emerging technologies such as IoT-enabled monitoring systems, blockchain traceability, and renewable energy solutions, we can enhance the efficiency, transparency, and sustainability of our cold chain networks.

“Moreover, in tandem with our cold chain initiatives, we must address the broader issues of food security and malnutrition that afflict our nation,” he noted.

He said central to efforts in combating malnutrition was the imperative of food fortification, a cost-effective and evidence-based strategy for enhancing the nutritional quality of staple foods, maintaining that the Ministry was collaborating with different stakeholders to promote from bio to food fortification at household and industrial levels.

“By biofortifying staple crops such as maize, rice, cassava, sweet potato, millet, and sorghum with micronutrients and fortifying essential food commodities such as flour, salt, and cooking oil with key vitamins and minerals, we can significantly reduce the prevalence of nutrient deficiencies and improve the health outcomes of our population, particularly vulnerable groups such as children and pregnant women,” he stated.

Earlier, the Managing Director of the organisers of fairtrade Messe, Paul Maerz, said the collaboration was embarking on a journey fueled by innovation, collaboration, and shared aspirations for the advancement of Nigeria’s agro-food and plastics industries.

He said the exhibition expected to run on the 26th to 28th, March 2024, would feature 140 world-class exhibitors from across the globe, showcasing tailored products and solutions for the Nigerian market.

On his part, the Dutch Consular, Wouter Plomp, said he sixth West African Cold Chain Summit and Exhibition serves as a pivotal platform for fostering collaboration, innovation, and knowledge exchange towards building resilient and inclusive cold chain ecosystems in the region.

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