By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA-AS Nigerian agricultural sector continues to suffer huge losses in food production across various value chains, stakeholders have called for massive investment in cold chain logistics to boost agribusiness in the country.
This was stated by stakeholders in a virtual conference with theme, ‘Cold Chain Logistics Development – A Critical Imperative for Nigeria’, where they stressed the need to look inwards and boost the poor ranking of Nigeria as 110th on Logistics Performing Index, LPI.
According to them investment through deliberate government policies will definitely change the narrative in the agricultural, pharmaceutical sectors.
The moderator at of the conference, Dr Madu Obiora, pointed out that Nigeria is a vast country as far as cold chain logistics is concerned.
Obiora also made it known that the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology, NITT, and Multimix Academy saw it as an imperative to have qualified and adequate manpower to run the industry, because without manpower Nigeria will remain where it is in the global chain logistics industry, which will continue to stunt economic growth and development.
He also stressed that there is need to develop the human, which his institute has introduced Post Graduate Diploma in Cold Chain Logistics Management.
He also added as a result of lack of cold chain logistics, farmers and investors have experienced huge losses over the years.
Meanwhile, the keynote speaker and Chairman, Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology, NITT, Zaria, Olorogun John Ejovwoke Onojeharho, in a keynote presentation titled ‘Cold Chain Logistics and Development; A critical Imperative for Nigeria’ stated that cold chain logisticians look far and deep into the future of the environment and economy in order to provide solution when and where necessary on how to effectively and efficiently move goods from one place to the other based on controlled temperature, which makes it possible for seamless movement of goods from one point to another in that value chain.
Speaking on the preparedness of Nigerian businessmen and government on Africa Continental Trade Agreement, AfCTA, Onojeharho said: “For us in Nigeria at this time we need to be talking about AfCTA where we will before that programme takes effect, are we ready in terms of moving between countries, communities, particularly the inter-country?
“Recently there was a seminar where the weakness of the Nigeria’s inter-boundary movement was exposed in the sense that most of Our drivers don’t have the continental insurance or inter-country insurance that can enable us move our goods from one point to the other are always arrested because they do not have the requisite documents to move form one country to the other.
“So supply chain in Nigeria is critical, and there are some things, and looking at other countries in terms of how much this entails. In USA, 2017 made $2.81 billion and 2018 $3.20 billion, and this will continue to run into billion Dollars, and at the end we are talking about multi-billion Naira business in a country we are looking for Dollars.
“There is an urgent need to invest in the cold chain sector to assist the diversification of the economy- Overdependence on oil and need to improve the agricultural chain; Job creation and employment generation; Infrastructural development roads, rail, sea ports and airports to support the value chain; Stimulate public private partnership; Stimulate technological innovations and promote intellectual property, and others.
Speaking on industries the Nigerian government needs to focus on providing the enabling environment for cold chain logistics, he mentioned some key sectors including food and beverage, and bio-pharmaceutical.
“The cold chain logistics infrastructure cuts across supply procurement; precooling system, farms (Rural Markets), manufacturers; Transport; refrigerated trucks, refrigerated railway wagons and refrigerated cargo containers; Storage; cold storage, warehouses; End customer; retail, terminal. Markets, factory, ports, airports; Consumer requirement in terms of quantity and quality
“Global cold Chain Facts: Food security in European and American developed countries, the rate of refrigerated transports is up to 80-90 per cent, pre-cooling preservation is up to 80-100 per cent and the loss rate is below five per cent. 25 per cent of the total food production is processed foods; a booming industry.
“Global cold chain market share by application- fruits and vegetables, fruit pulp and concentrates, dairy products, fish, meat and seafood, processed food and pharmaceuticals, bakery.”
Giving a preview on Nigeria cold chain logistics industry, the NITT boss said, “The development of an effective form to market cold chain is vital to increase availability and affordability of safe, nutritious food for low income Nigerians.
“Presently, Nigeria has less than one per cent of the world’s cold storage and mobile refrigerated logistics capacity. We have not started!
“The market is huge with great potential for growth and if properly tapped the industry will benefit the economy and improve the life and living of Nigerians.
“It is estimated that Nigeria can save $9 billion by avoiding spoilage of goods through transportation of the refrigerated products (fish foods, dairy products, fish market, supermarkets) that requires cold chain logistics in day to day operations. Over 100 million metric tonnes perishable produce is transported between elites each year with only less than 10 per cent.
“Implications: Nigeria losses an estimated 1.5 million metric tonnes of perishable farm produce annually; Between 40-50 per cent of fresh fruits and vegetables are lost during transportation, storage and processing; Tomato produce, for instance, it is estimated that more than 40 per cent of tomato must travel long distances they are largely grown in the northern part of the country, but mostly consumed in urban centres in the south.
“Fresh produce value chain beyond the farm gate is largely fragmented, comprising of thousands of small businesses engaged in transportation, storage and distribution; The largest open air food market in west Africa, Mile 12 market in Lagos has no cold storage facilities.
“Nigeria ranks 110th out of 160 in the 2020 Logistics Performing Index.”
He also pointed some bottlenecks in cold chain system in Nigeria, which include acute energy supply impacts cold chain development, the failure of cold-chain intrinsically affects the entire value chain; Lack of know-how and trained manpower to process, package, transport and store.