Local and global stakeholders in the Nigerian tomato value chain met late last year for the first YieldWise partner planning session. This was part of a crucial Rockefeller Foundation initiative to help halve food loss worldwide by 2030, a key objective of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.
The product loss in Nigeria is staggering. While the country is the largest producer of tomatoes in Sub-Saharan Africa and the second largest in all of Africa, more than 40 percent of the product is lost between harvest and market each year. The post-harvest loss harms both consumers and smallholder farmers. On a worldwide basis, one-third of the food produced is lost to spoilage or is just thrown away. That’s food that could nourish the nearly 800 million people who go to bed hungry. For smallholder farmers, the post-harvest loss means loss of income and profits, leading to their own economic insecurity.
To demonstrate how post-harvest loss can be prevented, the Rockefeller Foundation launched the $130 million YieldWise initiative last year. The Foundation chose as its demonstration sites Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania. Nearly half the fruits, vegetables and staple crops produced in these countries are lost before they can ever reach a table. In Nigeria, the focus of the Rockefeller Foundation initiative to help halve food loss is on reducing crop losses and, perhaps just as important, on building an efficient value chain from a producer, to a buyer, a processor, a retailer and ultimately to the consumer.
Creating a more efficient, integrated tomato value chain was a key purpose of the meeting late last year of 22 local and global stakeholders. The stakeholders included Nigerian and international NGOs, Nigerian government representatives, providers, processors, agro-technology manufacturers and large scale tomato buyers. By aligning the resources each brings to the table, the stakeholders could develop a single, unified strategy to overcome post-harvest loss in the tomato value chain. The strategy addresses farmer aggregation and training, market linkages, financing and loss mitigating technologies.
The strategy was made possible because the individual stakeholders set aside their usual competitive differences to engage in a collaboration that would benefit the entire value chain, as well as each individual part of the value chain. The stakeholders will continue their collaboration at quarterly working group meetings. This spirit of collaboration is characteristic of the other demonstration projects participating in the Rockefeller Foundation initiative to help halve food loss by 2030. Through collaboration that engages stakeholders from smallholder farmers to international giants like Coca-Cola, the Foundation hopes to show that the problem of post-harvest loss can be solved for good.
– Robert Cornet