A major challenge to the on-going global campaign to drive food security is the loss of perishable food produce due to wastage and spoilage. The issue of perishable food loss is a visible reality across major food markets in the country, such as the Mile 12 market in Lagos, which has on constant display a refuse dump consisting of perishable food such as tomatoes, pepper, fruits and vegetables.
One cannot help but lament the loss that accrues to individuals within the value chain as a result of such wastage. According to reports from GEMS4 – an organisation committed to the growth and development of the Nigerian wholesale and retail sector, over 70% of perishable goods are lost within the value chain due to poor preservation and storage techniques.
Majority of the farmers still rely on the natural shelf life of their produce during transportation and sale to markets, which given Nigeria’s weather conditions often does not exceed a few days. This situation inevitably translates into an increase in the price of these produce as the retailers have to factor in the cost of the produce lost to spoilage and wastage.
The impact of the loss is not restricted to the consumers alone as farmers, wholesalers and retailers of perishable goods also experience lower returns due to challenges of poor storage and preservation techniques. Available techniques often rely on the availability of electricity for cooling and refrigeration. There is therefore a need to develop technology and innovation that will address the issue of storage and preservation without totally relying on the electricity grid.