Food insecurity is a challenge in Nigeria and Africa. It is partly caused by the way in which the farmers handle food stuffs after harvesting. After harvesting when the perishable foods are in plenty, farmers are faced with three choices; firstly consuming as much as possible and letting the remainder go bad, secondly using ineffective methods of preservation like sun drying that destroy the quality of the perishable foods, or thirdly selling them to middle men at very low prices making losses despite their hard work on farms. This means that many times when production is low perhaps during the dry season, the small holder farmers have no savings and do not have enough money to afford buying food or the foodstuffs available on the market are too expensive for many people to afford forcing them to starve since they cannot get enough income or food from a particular agricultural season to sustain them continuously. This is the root cause of food insecurity in Nigeria which is more profound in rural areas. In Nigeria, the problem is particularly acute as agriculture is by far the largest employer -- accounting for two-thirds of the labor force. The lack of electricity in rural areas makes it fiendishly difficult to keep food cold.
Omega Logistics is a warehousing project that will provide rural based solar powered cold storage warehousing for perishable foodstuffs to minimize post-harvest handling wastage. The perishable foods may include sweet bananas, plantains, passion fruits, mangoes, cabbages, pineapples, oranges and others. The perishables are temporarily stored safely while in the process of arranging their transport to the final markets where they are sold at good prices for reasonable profit. Each of the perishable foodstuffs will be stored under its nutritionally recommended conditions to ensure its longevity before it reaches its final consumer. The cold storage will be primarily solar powered. Energy efficient cold storage is an essential element to a sustainably designed local food system. Cold storage allows local farmers to provide seasonal nutrition to the community year round at a low cost. Local farmers need to find ways to increase profitability while adhering to sustainability principles. The optimal cold storage solution will allow farmers to store and sell their products year round, with minimal energy use.
Our first step to carrying out this proposal will be to work with the Open Ideo design team to roll out up to 5 modular pilots in the north-western Nigeria, to give farmers an opportunity to test them for at least $0.50 per day. With this model, farmers will also have the option of forming co-operatives to buy their own, with subsidized repayment plans. We anticipate they will see swift and substantial returns since a basket of tomatoes sells for $60 when they are in the best condition. Farmers lose 50% due to lack of storage - $30 a basket. For 50 cents they can eliminate the loss completely.