Stopping Losses, Creating Gains: Partnering for Innovation and ColdHubs Reduce Post-Harvest Loss in Nigeria
Half of fresh fruits and vegetables are estimated to spoil before they reach consumers in Nigeria. Reducing postharvest loss at this massive scale is essential for improving the livelihoods and resilience of farmers and communities.
Humidity, temperature, and poor handling are just a few of the factors that drive the country’s high rate of postharvest loss. Controlling these factors, along with increasing knowledge of proper postharvest handling methods, can substantially improve the amount of fruits and vegetables that ultimately make it to market. With this in mind, Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation is partnering with ColdHubs Limited to establish 20 new, affordable cold storage rooms at 10 sites (or “hubs”) near marketplaces and farmer clusters across Nigeria.
As walk-in, solar-powered units, ColdHubs’ cold storage rooms are designed to preserve perishable foods as well as increase the shelf-life and value of products. Using a pay-per-use model, customers are charged for each 40-lb. (20 kg) crate of produce stored per day. With this model, customers are able to access the technology at an affordable price by renting only the space they need. At full capacity, each cold storage room holds 150 crates and serves 200 customers per day, with customers storing and withdrawing their produce at different times.
To date, eight cold storage rooms have been established at four market hubs (two rooms at each hub) across the country. These locations are particularly important for vendors, traders, and customers. Of the remaining six hubs, two will be situated at market centers in southern Nigeria and four will be established in northern Nigeria (where agricultural production is strongest) at farmer aggregation centers. By focusing on both regions, ColdHubs will be able to facilitate the movement of fresh produce from farmers in the north to key markets in the south.
Improved access to cold storage rooms will directly improve the resilience of Nigeria’s farmers and food systems when shocks occur, such as drought, flooding, or pests and disease outbreaks. Smallholder farmers can more proactively reduce and manage their risk by ensuring that the food they harvest, despite the shocks, does not spoil. Access to cold storage rooms also enables farmers to make more profitable decisions by not being forced to sell quickly at a lower price. At the national level – particularly pertinent during the current pandemic – a network of cold storage rooms enables the country to respond to shocks and risks by more effectively moving food from places of high production to places experiencing low production or increased demand.
Through this partnership, more than 3,000 smallholder farmers and vendors will be trained in postharvest handling and storage, resulting in less food loss and higher incomes. The 10 new sites will potentially reach 2,000 beneficiaries, including 1,000 farmers, and save an estimated 22,000 metric tons of food from spoilage each year.