Can private companies boost Nigeria’s food security?

Jan 10, 2022|Carl T. Macaulay

For every four tomatoes harvested in Nigeria, we lose three to decay at some point between the farmer and the consumer, costing the country $2.4 billion a year.

That’s just one example of the significant economic burden from food waste. Beyond tomatoes, the amount of food that generally gets wasted in Nigeria is outrageous.

Some takeaways:

  • Data from the World Bank shows 40% of the food produced in Nigeria goes bad before getting to their final consumer.

  • Food wastage is a visible effect of inadequate food storage. But there are invisible effects of inadequate storage, such as farmers deciding not to plant crops.  

  • The major problem with storage in Nigeria is aggregation. Most farmers in Nigeria are smallholders, so it doesn’t make economic sense to have large-scale storage without someone acting as an intermediary.

Data from the World Bank shows 40% of the food produced in Nigeria goes bad before getting to their final consumer. And we don’t even have enough food in the first place.

The 2021 global food security index ranks Nigeria as the 97th country in a cohort of 113 countries—not the most flattering position. In the index, food security was measured by considering its affordability, availability, quality and exposure to climate change. Affordability and availability are both impacted by the total amount of food available. And, there are two ways you can increase the amount of food available; one is to increase productivity, and the other is to cut down on waste.

In Nigeria, some companies are trying to solve this problem. One example is AFEX, a commodities exchange attempting to tackle the food crisis. In fact, one of the bonds it is using to raise capital is named the Food Security Fund.

From helping farmers boost productivity to building warehouses and managing commodities exchanges, private companies are putting skin in the game. Their activities are supposed to both increase productivity and reduce wastage. But before we talk about how all this is possible, let’s dive deeper into the food waste that threatens the country’s food security. It will help us understand the severity of the problem this company is trying to solve.

Food waste, a menace to Nigeria’s food security

The data for food waste includes different types of crops such as yams, tomatoes, and onions,

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