The Organisation for Technology Advancement of Cold Chain in West Africa (OTACCWA), has highlighted that the managers of Nigeria’s economy could take to tackle post-harvest losses by leveraging the use of cold chain technology.
The President, OTACCWA, Mr. Alexander Isong, bemoaned that post-harvest losses have decimated Nigerian produce over the years, explaining that lack of storage facilities, inaccessible road network, pre-cooling chambers are responsible for the nation’s post-harvest losses currently at 50 per cent.
Isong stated this on the sidelines of a pre-event to herald an agro-food expo scheduled to hold from March 26t to 28, 2024 in Lagos.
To address post-harvest losses, he called on the federal government to invest massively in refrigeration.
“Why we are having a lot of post-harvest losses is that our farmers do not practice what we call precooling at the farms. After harvest, they are supposed to put their produce in a precooling chamber which takes the produce to a manageable temperature which extends the shelf life of the produce,” he said.
According to him, the private sector alone cannot fund the acquisition of these pre-cooling chambers, maintaining that OTACCWA is partnering the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to find cheap technology to bring down the cost of refrigeration.
He pointed out that OTACCWA is working with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to provide precooling chambers at different farms across the country.
“We are also scaling up these projects in different parts of the country believing that if we can get the farming community to reduce their post-harvest losses by at least 10 per cent, we would be able to bring down the rate across the country to the barest minimum. We cannot achieve zero percent post-harvest losses overnight, but if we can bring it to 40 per cent this year, add another next year, in the next 5 to 10 years it would be a thing of the past, but we need to start and scale up these programmes across the country,” he advised.
The OTACCWA’s boss said that the agricultural sector is struggling as a result of post-harvest losses, but however commended the Tinubu-led administration’s renewed focus on food security