Cold storage; a necessity for food security.

Jul 15, 2020

From the early days of farming till date, man has suffered fruit and vegetable scarcity at some points of the year due to the high perishability of these types of plant.

 Vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber. They are low in calories and fats, they are home to many antioxidants, rich sources of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, beta-carotene, vitamin B-complex, vitamin-C, vitamin-A, and vitamin K, good for the eyes, skin and help to generally boost the immune system. (intechopen.com)

Fruits are equally amazing in their own way, they are said to be life-enhancing medicines packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and many phytonutrients (Plant-derived micronutrients), they are a great replacement  for our unhealthy sugar filled drinks. They are  low in calories and fat, good sources of simple sugars, fiber, and vitamins, which are essential for optimizing our health, they contain many antioxidants. They are said to offer protection from minor ailments like wrinkling of skin, hair fall, and memory loss,  they also help in the long run to  avert major diseases like age-related macular degeneration (AMRD) of the retina in the eyes, Alzheimer’s disease, colon cancers, weak bones (osteoporosis) and the list goes on. All these being said are an indication that fruits and vegetables are essential for a man to live a healthy and long life, . In spite of all these great benefits Fruits and vegetables are the most wasted produce globally (FAO). 

Study shows that the world is producing 1/3rd of the fruits and vegetables it needs to meet the nutritional requirements of the population, and  It is said that at least half of the fruits and vegetables produced by the world are lost and wasted due to reasons which includes; drought, pests, and problems with storage, transportation and retail. This is a huge problem but as part of the dividends of technology in agriculture; irrigation farming solves the problem of drought, and the use of pesticides solves the problem of pests too. However the problem of storage, transportation and retail still stares us in the face in Africa.

Cold storage simply means storing your fruits and vegetables in a controlled cold environment. Fruit and vegetable deterioration, caused by respiration rate, ethylene production, mechanical injuries, water stress, physiological disorders and pathological(caused by disease) breakdown, leads to decay, loss in nutritive value, and changes in color, texture and flavor can be stopped by the control of temperature and relative humidity, also the prevention of damage can increase shelf life.  Cold storage is not just putting your fruits and vegetables in the fridge or freezer to keep it cold, it is a process that requires knowledge because various fruits and vegetables require different temperatures for proper preservation.

Unfortunately many African countries are yet to effectively deploy this technology due to lack of funding, knowledge and other silent factors, but I’ll like to take you through how you can set up your own cold storage facility. Here are the few things you will need;

Knowledge

Never start a business you know nothing about even if you have all the money in the world. Ensure that you know all that there is to be known about cold storage.

Cold storage remains one of the most under explored parts of the agric value chain in Africa, you can come on board and contribute to the fight against hunger and food scarcity through this means.

A good site

To set up a cold storage system, you will need access to stable power supply, good water, a good drainage system, a loading and an offloading area, a large storage area and good road network, finding a location that offers these features in Nigeria is like searching for a needle in a hay stack, it is not impossible though.

Capital

Cold storage is capital intensive because of the cost of the equipment needed, the cost of setting up the facility and labor ranges in the upside of spending, the full bulk of money needed have to be available before the commencement of the project to avoid project failure and abandonment.

Team and Network

It’s better to never work alone when it comes to integrating cold chain technology in Nigeria. Tunde Okoya, President (OTACCWA), claimed that the capacity of the cold chain storage in Nigeria is 250,000 cubic; which is meagre for a country of Nigeria’s size; to successfully bridge the cold chain demand gap, there will be need for collaborations.

Good intention and proper knowledge is needed to expand the country’s cold chain capacity and replicate it across Africa, but we believe it is possible; that is why we are sharing this positive message, that you can start from where you are right now, on your mobile phone; it gives you access to tons of information, so why don’t you start the journey by simply typing ‘Cold Chain’. Pick it up from there and never look back


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