The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) has initiated the Post-harvest Loss Alliance for Nutrition (PLAN) to proffer appropriate solutions to reducing high postharvest losses caused by lack of functional cold chain system and inappropriate packaging of perishable produce in the country.

At the Nigeria Cold Chain Summit (NCCS) 2017, held at the Renaissance Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, in September, themed: “An Environmental Enabler for Reducing Postharvest Losses, Improving Nutrition and Economic Diversification,” stakeholders brainstormed on solutions to the menace, especially losses incurred during transportation of perishable produce, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Key discussions at the NCCS 2017 focused on: the current status of the cold chain industry in Nigeria; the importance of the cold chain as a catalyst and driver for achieving reduction in postharvest losses, improved nutrition and food security; benefits cum advantages of using plastic crates in place of woven (raffia) baskets; and need for the transition support through legislation; and initiation of the formation of a cold chain business association for the development of the cold chain system.

Others include, outlining of the untapped business opportunities in the cold chain sector (Food, Pharma and Healthcare) and initiation of B2B networks for sustainable business growth and development; stimulation of local and international financial institutions to invest in local cold chain businesses; advocacy on the need for cold chain equipment to benefit from the import waivers granted agricultural equipment; and highlighting the importance of conducting a national cold chain mapping of Nigeria to determine current storage capacity and required actions for improvement.In her welcome address, Senior Technical Specialist, GAIN, USA, Roberta Lauretti-Bernhard, said PLAN was created in response to countries that have malnutrition, as well as a postharvest loss problem. “Postharvest loss is also nutrition loss. So a platform was drawn that is a combination of the private sector, government and institutions that have a strong objective of ending not just postharvest loss, but malnutrition.”She said “GAIN’s interest in Nigeria stems from her high malnutrition burden and also high incidence of postharvest loss in fruits and vegetables, thus leading to loss of micronutrients. It happens in many countries of the world, as well as in the United States, where there are cases of malnutrition, as well as people who are obese and at the same time nutrient deficient.”In her keynote presentation, Director General/Chief Executive Officer, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO) Professor (Mrs.) Gloria Elemo, said it is very important that the food security of this nation is put in place in a sustainable way.Elemo said Nigeria has mostly fresh fruits and vegetables production in the North and the commercial centre in the South, but the means of transportation to the consumers is the problem, as about 50 per cent of these fruits and vegetables are lost before reaching customers due to bad packaging and poor postharvest handling.Senior Project Manager, PLAN Nigeria, Dr. Augustine Okoruwa, who provided a brief introduction of GAIN and the PLAN project, said the primary objective of PLAN is to ensure coordinated actions among the stakeholders for reduction of postharvest losses.

“We looked at the fruit and vegetable supply chain and identified three intervention points along the value chain: Cold Cain Storage & Logistics; Crating and Packaging, and Proximate Processing. The first anchor we started with is the cold chain storage and logistics, which informed the cold chain diagnostic studies of selected businesses.”

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