The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) has announced that its project, the Postharvest Loss Alliance for Nutrition (PLAN) project will officially phase out on December 31st, after the tremendous successes it achieved in its bid to curbing post-harvest losses in fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as developing a functional cold chain system.
At the PLAN Close-Out Event and Luncheon organized at the Providence Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos state, Senior Project Manager of PLAN Nigeria, Dr. Augustine Okoruwa in his keynote presentation revealed that the successes of PLAN in solving malnutrition challenges have had a rippled effect across the entire agricultural value chain, with farmers and agropreneurs benefitting massively from the initiative.
He divulged that the PLAN project which began in 2016, keyed into three intervention activities in the fresh fruits and vegetable supply chain which include; cold chain storage and logistics, crating and packaging, as well as an effective processing strategy for perishable produce to facilitate real-time value addition in the sector.
Speaking in an interview with AgroNigeria, Dr. Okoruwa said that the initiative, dedicated to repressing post-harvest losses and improving nutrition has laid down an outstanding marker for the development of postharvest activities. He said that the adoption of Returnable Plastic Crates (RPCs) to replace raffia baskets for storage and transporting of produce like tomatoes was a vital approach for PLAN to reduce losses and promote healthier living.
In his remarks, “The PLAN initiative will officially close out on December 31, 2019. Over a period of four years, we created a business to business platform that enables business transactions between members of the alliance and we have also left behind the first cold chain association in West Africa; the Organization for Technology Advancement of Cold Chain in West Africa (OTACCWA), which will foster the continuity of one of the key intervention component of PLAN.”
The Project Leader also stated that PLAN demonstrated effectively that SMEs play a significant role in eradicating Postharvest losses. He said, “We invested hugely in supporting SME’s in the agriculture value chain. Businesses like Agro Matters and Naija Pride received grants and training from us to develop their cold chain systems. We ensured that when farmers harvest their produce, the quality and nutritional value is still intact.”
Emphasizing the need to fast-track the development of the business opportunities embedded in the cold chain sector, the PLAN mogul further stated that linking business to business (B2B) network for rapid business growth was part of PLAN’s blueprint. He said it provided a platform to build sustainable partnerships between co-actors in the various value chains, adding that it orchestrated several successful business transactions for stakeholders under the auspices of PLAN.
Cold Chain Development
Furtherance to PLAN’s course, the Organization for Technology Advancement of Cold Chain in West Africa (OTACCWA) was birth to promote the significance of the cold chain to a sustainable food security strategy. The organization through PLAN was tasked with the responsibility of aligning the cold chain sectors with reducing post-harvest losses and stimulating financial institutions to invest in local cold chain businesses.
Speaking at the Close-Out Event, Vice President of OTACCWA and CEO of Alyx Limited, Alexander Isong, revealed that PLAN had established itself as an active force in projecting agribusiness ideas and creating awareness on the reduction of postharvest losses and the development of the cold chain system.
According to him, “Food Security cannot be achieved without food storage. PLAN has helped in developing an end to end cold chain services for vegetables and fruits. PLAN has been very vital to the structure of agribusiness in Nigeria; it has created the enabling environment for business across all spectrums to thrive. The initiative has also helped indigenous companies create solutions to the challenges of daunting cold chain logistics. As an agropreneur, PLAN gave me grants to build cold chain systems, they also doled out matching funds, logistics and consultancy to enable us to build our capacity,” he added.
On the birth of OTACCWA to foster the post¬-harvest course, Isong said, “OTACCWA is open for business; we are an extension of what PLAN has done. PLAN has passed on the baton and we ready to run the race”
On his part, CEO of Cold Hubs, Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu who lauded the PLAN initiative for its proactive engagement said, “PLAN is an incredible project. For us at Cold Hubs, we received technical support and expertise on cold storage from PLAN. The technology and services we received from the project have presented our company as one that aligns its objectives with global expertise.”
The close-out event had in attendance actors and stakeholders from various agribusinesses, associations and government agencies including; the Vice President of the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), Emmanuel Ijewere; Head, Produce Inspection Unit, Lagos state ministry of agriculture, Adegboye Adebisi; Deputy Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Lagos state chapter, Mr. Shakin Agbayewa; Secretary-General, Mile 12 market, Alhaji Mohammed Abdul; CEO, Cee Perfect Global Supplies Limited, Chris Ugo; among others.