APM Terminals, in conjunction with Naija Pride and with the assistance of international development groups, is working to provide modern cold chain transportation alternatives for farmers in the agricultural centers of northern Nigeria.
The idea is to bring fresh produce intact and unspoiled to markets in major coastal city Lagos.
An estimated 15 million metric tons (MT) of Nigerian-grown perishable goods including onions, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, okra, ginger and carrots, are lost annually due to poor logistics infrastructure and high transportation costs through spoilage and product damage, according to APM Terminals.
Reducing post-harvest losses
The international container operating company says its ongoing investments in cold chain transportation demonstrates ways to reduce post-harvest losses, and extend the shelf life of fresh produce for local consumption and export.
“New investment in cold chain infrastructure will clearly be an important growth driver for the Nigerian economy. We, along with our partners, aim to offer our landside customers both the service and expertise necessary to protect perishables for domestic markets and open new international market opportunities through Nigerian ports,” said APM Terminals Apapa managing director Martin Jacob.
APM Terminals says approximately half of Nigeria’s 1.8 million metric tonnes of domestic tomato crop doesn’t reach market because it gets spoiled and damaged during transportation. It is packed in traditional woven raffia baskets and moved by conventional trucking.
At the beginning on this month, the first trial shipment of 18.6 MT of fresh tomatoes, packed into 933 crates each containing 20 kg, were loaded into a refrigerated container for the 650 mile (1,045 km ) trip from Dutsen Wai, in Nigeria’s Kaduna State, to Lagos.
In the controlled reefer environment, heat spoilage, as well as bruising damage from cargo shifting during transport was eliminated which meant the entire truckload arrived intact and ready for sale or further transport.
APM Terminals partnered with Naija Pride for the tomato shipment, in cooperation with US-based TechnoServe, an international non-profit that promotes business solutions in 29 countries. Naija Pride is owned by Emmanuel Ijewere, the vice chairman of the Nigerian Agribusiness Group (NABG) which is co-chaired by Sani Dangote, Dangote group’s vice chairman.
The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID)-funded Growth and Employment in States (GEMS4) programme and the US-based Rockefeller Foundation-funded Yieldwise project were also on-site in Dutsen Wai as observers, providing advice on cold chain supply opportunities that benefit the Nigerian agricultural industry and end-user customers.