Food se­cu­rity in Nige­ria and the world by 2050 – II

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Contents - By Mo­jisola Oje­bode

De­spite the sup­port from in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions to dras­ti­cally re­duce food losses and wastage in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, lo­cal so­lu­tions in af­fected com­mu­ni­ties could make a huge dif­fer­ence.

Ev­ery year, a stag­ger­ing 1.3 bil­lion tonnes of food is ei­ther lost im­me­di­ately after har­vest­ing, or thrown away due to bad qual­ity or cooked but not eaten. This amount of food loss and waste (FLW) can feed the three bil­lion peo­ple suf­fer­ing from hunger across the globe. About 1.4 bil­lion hectares or ap­prox­i­mately 30 per­cent of agri­cul­tural land glob­ally is used to grow food that is even­tu­ally wasted.

Amina Dauda – a mother of seven who grows veg­eta­bles and mil­let with her hus­band in the Hoas com­mu­nity of Plateau State, Nige­ria – looks for­ward to a great har­vest ev­ery plant­ing sea­son. She and her hus­band in­vest so much time, en­ergy and money in cul­ti­vat­ing var­i­ous pieces of land. The en­tire fam­ily de­pends on the farm pro­duce for their liveli­hood. Some­times, her children set traps in nearby bushes to hunt an­i­mals.

The farms yield well and the fam­ily re­joices after ev­ery har­vest. Their joy is, how­ever, short-lived as they are of­ten not able to sell all the pro­duce at once. On many oc­ca­sions, they con­sume the un­mar­ketable farm pro­duce at home or give them away. The prof­its re­alised from those taken to the mar­ket or sold to mid­dle men can­not sus­tain the fam­ily till the next plant­ing sea­son be­cause a good por­tion of the veg­gies gets spoilt within a few days after har­vest.

Amina's story is hardly unique. In­deed, many small­holder farm­ers in her com­mu­nity and across other states and coun­tries in Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa share sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences.

Food loss and wastage oc­cur glob­ally at var­i­ous points from farm to fork, de­pend­ing on the re­gion and avail­able tech­nol­ogy that sup­ports farm­ing as well as food stor­age and pro­cess­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion of the United Na­tions (FAO), de­vel­op­ing coun­tries record about 40 per­cent of food losses after har­vest­ing and dur­ing pro­cess­ing. Mean­while, food wastage – as op­posed to food losses – is more preva­lent in in­dus­tri­al­ized coun­tries, where more than 40 per­cent of food waste oc­curs at stores and homes after pur­chase.

For ex­am­ple, a re­cent re­port by WRAP, the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment's agency set up to pro­mote sus­tain­able waste man­age­ment, found that one in three peo­ple trashes ba­nanas if there is any bruise or mark on the skin. By im­pli­ca­tion, Bri­tish shop­pers throw away 1.4 mil­lion ba­nanas and 178 mil­lion bags of sal­ads ev­ery day.

In Nige­ria, like other de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, food crops are wasted im­me­di­ately after har­vest­ing. They are ei­ther left on the farms to rot or they get spoilt, es­pe­cially per­ish­able foods, while they are be­ing trans­ported to the mar­kets or when they are not stored prop­erly. The coun­try records huge losses of toma­toes, pep­per, mil­let, maize, veg­eta­bles and a lot of fruits. Hence, ev­ery coun­try or re­gion needs to fash­ion its own ap­proach to curb food loss and waste.

Kabir Ola­jide, a fruits and veg­eta­bles farmer in Abuja, Nige­ria, told me that, “Lack of stor­age and pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties are re­spon­si­ble for the huge loss of wa­ter­melon in Tunga Maje, Ane­gada/Gwag­wal­ada ar­eas of Abuja. Al­most ev­ery farmer in th­ese com­mu­ni­ties grows wa­ter­melon, flood­ing the mar­ket with the pro­duce after har­vest. On average, at least 1,000 fruits per farm are wasted.”

Ac­cord­ing to Chid­inma Peace Mbana­sor, a Nige­rian gen­der ad­vo­cate and de­vel­op­ment worker, farm­ers in the Hoas com­mu­nity in Plateau State can­not pro­vide for their fam­i­lies through­out the year de­spite their boun­ti­ful har­vests of toma­toes, veg­eta­bles and mil­lets. About 8090 per­cent of farm­ers in this com­mu­nity grow th­ese crops and they try to sell their prod­ucts at the same time but there are not enough buy­ers.

Kabir also men­tioned the un­avail­abil­ity of in­dus­trial off­tak­ers for th­ese prod­ucts. He com­plained about mid­dle men who are will­ing to buy in large quan­ti­ties but of­fer ridicu­lously low prices. The farm­ers are not mo­ti­vated to sell at the low prices and be­cause they lack stor­age fa­cil­i­ties, sub­stan­tial por­tions of their pro­duce get spoilt.

The chal­lenges re­lat­ing to sea­sonal over­sup­ply of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, lack of stor­age and pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties are not lim­ited to Nige­ria. “In Kenya, pota­toes, cab­bage, toma­toes, car­rots and man­goes go to waste in ar­eas such as Nyan­darua, Meru and Narok,” Mercy Lung'aho, a Kenyan re­search sci­en­tist for the In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for Trop­i­cal Agri­cul­ture (CIAT), Kenya, told me.

Mercy added that poor mar­ket in­for­ma­tion, poor post-har­vest han­dling – es­pe­cially dur­ing sort­ing – lack of pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties for cot­tage in­dus­tries and glut – when farm­ers in a com­mu­nity grow the same food crops – are the rea­sons for food loss in Kenya.

“When there is a glut, in the case of toma­toes, some even feed the toma­toes to cows!” said Jemimah Njuki, Se­nior Pro­gram Spe­cial­ist at Canada's In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Re­search Cen­tre (IDRC), Kenya.

One can clearly see that the prob­lem of hunger and star­va­tion suf­fered by an es­ti­mated 233 mil­lion peo­ple in Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa is not be­cause food pro­duc­tion lev­els are too low. On the con­trary, it is due to the in­cred­i­bly high level of post-har­vest losses. To be sure, a num­ber of coun­tries in this re­gion suf­fer from drought and other nat­u­ral or man-made dis­as­ters that limit pro­duc­tiv­ity as dis­cussed in the first part of this se­ries pub­lished in the pre­vi­ous edi­tion of Fi­nan­cial Nige­ria.

To tackle the chal­lenges of food loss and wastage in Africa, a num­ber of in­ter­ven­tions have been ini­ti­ated. For in­stance, the Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion, in 2016, launched the Yield­Wise ini­tia­tive, a $130 mil­lion ini­tia­tive tar­geted at re­duc­ing post-har­vest losses in Nige­ria, Kenya and Tan­za­nia.

Ac­cord­ing to Ma­madou Bit­eye, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Africa Re­gional Of­fice, the Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion, large multi­na­tional com­pa­nies like Coca-Cola Com­pany and Dan­gote Group are key col­lab­o­ra­tors on this ini­tia­tive. He iden­ti­fied food loss and waste as an allinclu­sive prob­lem, which re­quires an allinclu­sive so­lu­tion.

The Foun­da­tion also part­nered with Dal­berg Global De­vel­op­ment Ad­vi­sors and In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute for Trop­i­cal Agri­cul­ture (IITA) to launch a $1 mil­lion cas­sava in­no­va­tion chal­lenge aimed at spurring ideas to in­crease the shelf life of cas­sava in Nige­ria and glob­ally.

Lo­cally, Dan­gote Farms Lim­ited also launched a to­mato pro­cess­ing plant in Kano last year. The plant, es­ti­mated to pro­duce 400,000 tonnes of to­mato paste an­nu­ally, was set up to off­take toma­toes from farm­ers in or­der to re­duce losses. How­ever, more needs to be done to sup­port farm­ers and farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties in Nige­ria and other de­vel­op­ing parts of the world. For ex­am­ple, the Dan­gote Farm's to­mato pro­cess­ing plant has ex­pe­ri­enced che­quered op­er­a­tions since it was launched in March 2016 due to scarcity of fresh toma­toes and in­fes­ta­tion on farms in Kano and other to­mato-pro­duc­ing states.

“More than half of toma­toes and pep­per pro­duced in Gboko, Yan­dev, Mbakor and Abinsi com­mu­ni­ties in Benue State are lost. Th­ese farm pro­duce are left at the Uban­gaji Mar­ket to rot due to lack of buy­ers. This is apart from the crops that are left to rot on farms be­cause many farm­ers can­not trans­port all their pro­duce to mar­kets,” said Dr. John Ona, Lec­turer and a mem­ber of the

Food Com­mod­ity Mar­ket set up by Benue State Gov­ern­ment.

De­spite the sup­port from in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions to dras­ti­cally re­duce food losses and wastage in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, lo­cal so­lu­tions in af­fected com­mu­ni­ties could make a huge dif­fer­ence. In fact, overde­pen­dence on for­eign sup­port in many cases does not yield the ex­pected pos­i­tive re­sults.

The Benue State Uni­ver­sity, Makurdi, re­ceived $8 mil­lion from the World Bank as one of the bank's African Cen­ters of Ex­cel­lence (ACE). The project was de­signed to strengthen the ca­pac­i­ties of par­tic­i­pat­ing uni­ver­si­ties and pro­mote re­gional spe­cial­iza­tion in ar­eas that ad­dress spe­cific com­mon re­gional de­vel­op­ment chal­lenges. How­ever, Ken­neth Ati, a food crop farmer in Gboko Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of the state, feels the World Bank grant has not been prop­erly uti­lized to meet the needs of farm­ers.

“ACE grant won by the Benue State Uni­ver­sity to fo­cus on de­vel­op­ment and uti­liza­tion of im­proved tech­nolo­gies to re­duce post-har­vest food losses has only helped the uni­ver­sity to of­fer cour­ses and train­ing in this area. The prac­ti­cal ap­proach has not been ap­plied in the com­mu­ni­ties in Benue that are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing food losses. There's a dis­con­nec­tion,” said Ati.

Look­ing away from for­eign aid, lo­cal and state gov­ern­ments could work with farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties to do more. Such com­mu­ni­ties, like the ones al­ready men­tioned, could form co­op­er­a­tives where farm­ers – with the sup­port of the gov­ern­ment – would pool their re­sources in var­i­ous ar­eas of ac­tiv­i­ties such as stor­age and pro­cess­ing.

An­other ap­proach would be for com­mu­ni­ties to di­ver­sify pro­duc­tion. This can pre­vent flood­ing the mar­ket dur­ing the har­vest­ing sea­son with a par­tic­u­lar type of crop or fruit grown by ma­jor­ity of farm­ers in an area. There is also a need to link farm­ers to off­tak­ers as op­posed to mid­dle men. That way, buy­ers are al­ready avail­able be­fore farm pro­duce are har­vested.

Cot­tage in­dus­tries could also be run by farm­ers or farmer groups for the pro­cess­ing of per­ish­able crops, es­pe­cially fruits. Gov­ern­ment, non-gov­ern­ment and pri­vate bod­ies could help pro­vide the fi­nan­cial and tech­ni­cal train­ing and sup­port needed by farm­ers run­ning th­ese cot­tage in­dus­tries. Sup­ply chain man­age­ment for the ease of dis­tri­bu­tion of the pro­cessed fruits and veg­eta­bles and other crops to po­ten­tial buy­ers should be pri­or­i­tized.

The pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors must also sup­port in­vest­ment in cold chain tech­nol­ogy – which in­volves trans­porta­tion of tem­per­a­ture-sen­si­tive prod­ucts along the sup­ply chain through ther­mal and re­frig­er­ated pack­ag­ing meth­ods to pre­vent spoilage. Tem­per­a­ture-sen­si­tive prod­ucts could be trans­ported through re­frig­er­ated trucks or re­frig­er­ated cargo ships to en­hance par­tic­i­pa­tion in the per­ish­able value chain to re­duce the amount of wastages.

De­vel­op­ing coun­tries can also adopt the Hazard Anal­y­sis and Crit­i­cal Con­trol Point (HACCP) sys­tem to iden­tify po­ten­tial haz­ards and con­trol them at spe­cific points. Th­ese haz­ards could be bi­o­log­i­cal, chem­i­cal or phys­i­cal haz­ards that can af­fect the safety of food.

Food loss and wastage is a global chal­lenge. We need to look in­ward to iden­tify ar­eas and crops prone to losses lo­cally and adopt tech­nolo­gies and other ap­proaches to curb this chal­lenge. Oth­er­wise, the world will end up spend­ing too many re­sources to pro­duce foods that end up as trash while bil­lions of peo­ple go hun­gry ev­ery day.

Mo­jisola Oje­bode

Da­m­aged wa­ter­melon

Dan­gote’s toma­toes pro­cess­ing plant in Kano State

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.