Initiative Result:

Cold transportation reduces food losses and improves income and welfare in Nigeria

More than 450 traders and 1,200 producers are benefitting from off-grid cooling and transportation innovations in Nigerian fruit and vegetable value chains.

Farming households in the north-eastern part of Nigeria are often affected by violent conflict which causes market disruptions and results in significant income losses for these households. The lack of temperature management technologies (at harvest stage and in transit) results in spoilage of food. This directly impacts the livelihood and income of farmers as well as for actors in the supply chain. To address this challenge, the Rethinking Food Markets Initiative partnered with ColdHubs. ColdHubs provides bundled innovations for off-grid cooling, transportation, and solar-powered cold storage for vegetable value chains. This service is currently benefitting over 450 traders and 1,200 producers in north-eastern Nigeria. This improvement in the country’s vegetable value chain creates ripple effects in the south of Nigeria by addressing food security issues in that region.

In many developing countries, including Nigeria, most of the fruit and vegetables produced are lost largely due to lack of an adequate cold chain, including postharvest handling, cold storage, and temperature-controlled transportation. As a result, local consumers often experience limited access to highly nutritious perishable foods such as fish, fruit, vegetables, milk, eggs, and meat. The lack of cold chain infrastructure also affects safety and nutritional content of foods. In addition to these losses faced by consumers, actors throughout the supply chain such as farmers suffer from income reductions. The main causes of this food loss are inadequate development of value chains and high costs associated with cooling systems.

The Rethinking Food Markets Initiative addressed this challenge by providing cool transportation access to tomato wholesalers at three horticultural markets in the states of Plateau, Bauchi and Gombe (Farin Gada, Muda Lawal, and Yan Gwari markets, respectively) in eastern Nigeria. The Initiative focuses on reducing food loss, increasing incomes for all supply chain actors and producers, and creating more employment opportunities for local people. With access to temperature-controlled storage and transportation, local tomato farmers are able to reach buyers in Lagos with minimal food losses. This supply chain innovation is helping solve vegetable supply shortages and lowering prices in the markets of Lagos.

CGIAR researchers from the Rethinking Food Markets Initiative implemented the intervention in collaboration with the private sector, with strong support from wholesalers and producers, as well as from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, state ministries, the House of Assembly, and the governor’s office. The intervention is helping reduce food losses significantly in the fruit and vegetable sector. Previously, 40-60 percent of total food was lost owing to a lack of developed cold chain. Reduced food losses and improved preservation of food quality is expected to raise incomes for wholesalers and smallholders in the origin states, while solving supply shortages, conserving nutrient value of highly perishable vegetables, and improving affordability of nutritious foods for consumers in the destination states. Allocative efficiency, that is, supply and demand efficiency, between northern and southern states is also expected to improve with the scaling of the innovations along the entire value chain.

As a supplementary intervention, the Initiative is also experimenting with certification of product quality by attaching quality certificate labels to a random sample of tomatoes. The aim is to test consumer preferences for quality and willingness to pay a price premium on quality.

Furthermore, in Jos, a 100-ton solar-powered cold storage facility was set up for wholesalers and producers to precool products prior to cool transportation. An earlier randomized control trial following the establishment of 3-ton solar powered cold storage facilities already found substantial benefits in terms of food loss reduction, value-chain efficiency, and income improvements for smallholders and wholesale and retail traders. Through the present intervention, cool transportation and cold storage are vertically integrated along the supply chain, in turn, improving logistics and quality control of fresh produce. There are 120 wholesalers who join the randomized control trial on a rotating basis with 33,750 plastic crates (20 kilograms each) of tomatoes in three trucks transported to Lagos over 15 round trips. About 450 traders and 1,200 producers (mainly smallholders but also some large-scale producers) directly benefit from the intervention. The solar-powered storage facilities are mostly managed by women from the local beneficiary communities. Stakeholders have indicated interest in sustaining the interventions beyond 2024 and bringing these to scale to boost the number of beneficiaries.

The ColdHubs ecosystem will not only provide refrigeration solutions for tomato and other perishable food but will also help build the capacity of traders and farmers … The cost of access or affordability of the storage facility will be minimal as compared to previously recorded losses which occurred due to a lack of effective storage to prolong shelf life of perishable products. Partnership with and using services provided by ColdHubs will guarantee sustainable income for farmers and traders by reducing the pressure on sellers to sell right after harvest and extending the shelf life of fresh produce.

Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, CEO, Coldhubs

Header photo: Tomatoes in a refrigerated truck headingfrom Gombe to Lagos. Dauda Bawa/University of Jos.

CGIAR Center



Coldhubs Ltd.