Heifer International’s sponsored agritech storage solution; ColdHubs, was yesterday formally introduced into the Lagos market with the launch of the facility for smallholder farmers and sellers of perishable farm produce at the ABAT CBD Market in Ibeju-Lekki.
The ColdHubs innovation, which is being sponsored on a large scale by Heifer International, is part of the measures to increase storage capacity and ensure last-mile connectivity to prevent post-harvest losses experienced by small-holder farmers and to ensure food security in Nigeria.
Stakeholders in the agriculture sector have variously attributed lack of storage and processing facilities, as one of the major problems facing agricultural development in Nigeria, stating that post-harvest activities like storage must be given the right inputs.
At the launch in Lagos, which was witnessed by farmers, farm produce traders and government officials, Country Director of Heifer International, Nigeria, Rufus Idris explained that ColdHubs innovation will help Nigeria to attain food sufficiency and reduce hunger.
Rufus Idris, noted that young entrepreneurs across Africa have the capacity to develop homegrown solutions that will support farmers across the continent and encourage young people to develop a keen interest in the agriculture sector.
“We want to do our part to help young innovators deploy tech innovations that will boost farming and food production and provide smallholder farmers with the support they require to grow a sustainable, profitable business,” said Idris.
Also speaking at the ceremony, the founder and CEO of ColdHubs, Mr. Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, said “We are inspired by the need to provide storage solutions for smallholder farmers who have no way of keeping their produce fresh, forcing them to sell it soon after harvest. With support from Heifer International, we are expanding our affordable, pay-as-you-go refrigeration option and making it available right in the middle of local markets”.
According to him, the $500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand US Dollars) prize money from the AYuTe Africa Challenge has been the major catalyst for his firm’s innovation. The company has now launched an ambitious expansion strategy.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Adesola Olusanya, said at the occasion that ColdHubs is of paramount importance to the state and it is in line with the five-year Development programe drawn by the state in 2021 to ensure food security and sufficiency for Lagos residents.
The Commissioner, who was represented by Mr. Emmanuel Audu, a Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Head of Lagos State Agriculture Training Institute, added that farmers work hard but do not derive enough income for their labour because of post-harvest losses and often forced to sell their produce at low prices for lack of storage facility.