Nigeria is one of the largest producers of food in Africa, but it also has one of the highest rates of food wastage in the world. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Nigeria wastes about one-third of its food production yearly. This amounts to approximately 100 million tons of food per year, which is enough to feed over 40 million people.
Food wastage occurs at all stages of the food supply chain in Nigeria, from production to processing to distribution to consumption. The causes of food wastage vary depending on the stage of the supply chain, but they include
- Production: Poor harvesting practices, pests and diseases, and lack of storage facilities.
- Processing: Inefficient processing methods and damage to food during processing.
- Distribution: Poor handling and transportation of food, and inadequate storage facilities.
- Consumption: Consumer confusion about food labels, unrealistic expectations about food appearance, and poor meal planning.
Food wastage has a significant environmental and social impact in Nigeria. When food is wasted, it ends up in landfills, where it produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Food wastage also contributes to water pollution, as food waste that is not properly disposed of can leach into waterways.
There is also an enormous social impact, as it contributes to food insecurity in Nigeria. Millions of Nigerians go hungry every day, while food is wasted on a massive scale.
To find solutions, it is important to address the root causes of food wastage and food loss. This includes
- Improving harvesting practices, investing in food storage facilities, and processing.
- Consumers must be made aware of the problem of food wastage and food loss, the impact of the choices they make, and how this leads to food wastage.
- The government and businesses need to play a role in reducing food wastage and food loss. The government can implement policies that promote sustainable food production and consumption practices. Businesses can invest in new technologies and processes to reduce food waste.
The costs of food wastage and loss are immense, but there are viable sustainable solutions that we can implement to minimize it such as;
- Improving agricultural practices to reduce post-harvest losses: This can be done by using better harvesting methods, investing in storage and transportation facilities, and developing more resistant crop varieties.
- Use more efficient processing methods, handling and transportation practices
- Invest in cold storage facilities.
- Promote sustainable food consumption practices, such as meal planning, food storage, and composting which help consumers to reduce the amount of food waste they produce at home.
Several initiatives address the problem of food wastage and food loss in Nigeria. At FutuX, we contribute by
Raising awareness: We constantly talk about the problem of food systems among farmers, food processors, distributors, consumers, and other stakeholders. By drawing attention to this issue, more people understand and take action that contributes to reducing food loss and food wastage.
Building capacity: We are committed to building capacity amongst stakeholders to reduce food wastage and food loss. By providing training on sustainable food production practices, food processing methods, and food storage and handling techniques, we equip individuals and businesses with the much-needed knowledge to tackle this issue.
By implementing these solutions, we create a more sustainable food system that minimizes food loss and waste and ensures that everyone has access to the food they need.