Concerned about the loss being suffered by farmers and traders due to lack of storage facilities for produce, a nonprofit-making organisation, Heifer International, in conjunction with a private company, Cold Hubs, and Ogun State Government has launched a solar powered cold room to assist stakeholders in the state to preserve their produce.
The eight-ton capacity cold room was strategically located within the premises of the Ogun State Agricultural Corporation at the Kuto Market in Abeokuta, the state capital.
Heifer International is working on youths and women empowerment in the area of agriculture value chain.
The cold room, according to the facilitator of the project, has the capacity to preserve food crops like tomato, pepper, meat, fish, vegetables for more than 20 days and without losing their original quality.
Speaking at the launch of the cold room in Abeokuta at the weekend, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of ColdHubs, Mr. Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, said apart from building the cold room, market men and women were also trained for two days on post-harvest management and how to package, transport and store farm produce to prevent them from spoilage in a bid to achieve food security.
Ikegwuonu said his firm is operating 54 cold rooms in 26 states in Nigeria, adding that additional 14 cold rooms are currently been built in Edo, Delta, Rivers, Abuja and Nassarawa among other states.
He said: “What we are trying to do with this cold storage is to reduce spoilage significantly in the fresh fruit and vegetables, reduce spoilage in the meat, fish and milk as well as potatoes and other roots and tuber crops.
“We started from one cold room in 2015. Today we are operating 54 cold rooms in 26 states in Nigeria. As we speak, we are building 14 cold rooms in states across Nigeria. What we do is to partner market leadership anywhere we got to in order to see us as partners.
“We just came in to the South. We now have cold rooms in Ekiti, Oyo, Ondo, Osun, Ogun, Lagos States.
“This cold room is made possible with incredible support of Heifer International. Heifer is one of the NGOs in the world. They work with farmers in the agricultural value chain, support farmers, and food vendors, and they are in Africa with a huge project in Nigeria.
“They are presently in Ogun State where they have an ongoing tomatoes project. So Heifer supported the move to deploy this cold storage.
Also speaking, the General Manager of Ogun State Agricultural Development Corporation, Mr. Bolu Owotomo, lauded ColdHubs and Heifer International for the gesture, saying: “The cold room is a wonderful innovation that will not only ensure that you get sufficient value for your produce, but also allow you to plan your income and sales adequately.”
He said the corporation with the support of the state government would continue to partner the private sector to support farmers in maximising their profits