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How solar powered cold storage can cut Nigeria’s perishable food waste by 30%

The deployment of solar-powered cold storage can reduce Nigeria’s post-harvest loss in perishable foods by 30 per cent according to a report by BCG Consulting commissioned by All On.

According to the study, Nigeria has one of the highest post-harvest losses amongst peer countries at around 40 per cent and the lack of a proper storage facility has been identified as a major constraint.

Consequently, Nigeria loses about 80 million tons of food annually along the value chain including production, wholesale, retail and consumption which is equivalent to 9 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The study found that a sizeable proportion as much as 20 per cent of this loss is from perishable foods with an annual loss rate of 60 per cent.

It also said that around 37 percent of losses in perishable food is attributed to limited cold storage facilities and high rental cost of cold storage in Nigeria.

Due to lack of access to cold storage, small holder farmers typically use traditional storage methods such as use of charcoal room, a shed or sprinkling water on the produce over night, among other local methods to keep food safe.

To address food loss and waste, the Federal Government under the Malabo Declaration, has set an ambition to halve post harvest loss by 2025.

In 2014, the African Union (AU) member states adopted the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods.

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This Declaration provides direction to transform the agricultural sector in Africa for the period 2015-2025 within the wider framework of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). It is meant to assist AU member states to achieve agriculture-led growth, and end poverty and hunger. However, energy access have proved to be a real challenge.

The report by BCG stated that solar powered cold storage has its advantages over the conventional diesel-powered cold storage including lower rental cost and lower operating costs.

It said that farmers with solar-powered cold storage experience up to 80 percent reduction in food
loss and if deployed across the country, can save up to 4.4 million tonnes of food.

Solar powered cold storage has several advantages over the conventional diesel-powered cold storage and is therefore better suited to support the government’s ambition.

The report said that around 30 percent of perishable food loss could be prevented with the use of solar powered cold storage.

“Wider deployment of solar powered cold storage can bridge existing deficit and enable the Federal Government to achieve 11 percent of its post harvest reduction target,” the report said.

Besides cold storage, solar also powers a range of other processes in the agricultural sector, the report said and this includes crop production, livestock and fisheries and Agro-processing.

The deployment of solar powered water pumps for farmland irrigation by crop farmers in off grid locations can enable improve yields. Solar electric fences can also secure crops. Farmers can also leverage solar bubble dryers to provide an alternative to the use of sunlight in drying agriculture produce which improves the shelf life of perishable agriculture products.

The use of solar poultry lights to illuminate poultry farms in order to stimulate egg production during seasons of high rainfall and low sunlight. Solar incubators could also be used to develop fertilized eggs into life chicks by providing the prerequisite levels of electric and heat energy through sun power.

The deployment of solar powered grain mills to convert cereal crops including barley, maize, and sorghum into processed flour could help to replace
expensive modes of milling using fossil fuel.

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