Organisers describe plans to employ 375 people in three-year project to save food from the market
Plan to preserve perishable food for people with HIV that would save one million lives
People with HIV in Nigeria are to benefit from a new solar-powered cold storage project.
Currently, only the poorest people can afford to buy fresh produce. But the cold storage initiative will help end the extreme poverty faced by people living with HIV in Nigeria.
The ColdHubs project is being developed by the Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka, northern Nigeria, as part of the government’s “breakthrough on HIV/Aids” initiative. The initiative aims to introduce value chains in agriculture to reduce poverty.
Launched in 2016, ColdHubs will work by using solar energy, and will be the first project of its kind in Nigeria, according to team leader Franklin Mba.
“We will eventually be employing more than 375 people to run and operate the system in Anambra state,” he said. “We want to ensure these projects have zero impact on greenhouse gas emissions, which are rising, the most significant risk climate change faces.”
A worker inside a food storage facility. Photograph: Naushad Hossain/WHO
The system is aimed at small and medium enterprises (SMEs), especially farmers who produce fruit and vegetables. Once a kilogramme of food is packaged, it can be stored until it has reached a sufficient temperature, and retrieved when ready to be sold.
Unlike traditional cold storage, where food is stored at an ambient temperature, ColdHubs operates at a constant temperature of minus 0.2C.
“Once people gain access to this cold storage, we will ensure an extra 850,000 tonnes of food will be saved each year,” said Mba.
He explained that the project will deliver life-saving measures by:
o Producing fruits and vegetables at home for consumption during this poor time
o Developing a distribution network for locally produced foods
o Providing storage units for other agricultural products
o Setting up processing units for other farm produce.
Mba added that during the next 30 years, an additional 7.6bn people will be added to the global population. By 2083, an additional three billion people will live in Africa. Currently, only around four people a day are added to the global health burden related to HIV. This number will rise to one million if nothing is done to curb the HIV epidemic.
Nigeria, with its population of more than 190 million, is a major producer of some of the most nutritious and most accessible foods – rice, cassava, millet, plantains, maize, millet, sorghum, cowpea, bananas, banana and yam. Other crops grown and processed include pepper, rice bran, maize bran, cassava, yam, pepper plant and oil palm among others.
On the other hand, the population across Africa is eating more processed and convenience foods compared to traditional nutritious foods. This has allowed food producers, the government and traditional leaders to homogenise and homogenise food into a specific type of diet, thus fostering malnutrition, salt and fat intake and unhealthy eating patterns.
Nigeria has a huge gap in food storage capacity, according to Mba. More than 70% of food left on the roadsides in southern states, and in most areas of the northern part of the country, are lost as food is not properly stored.
“We need to talk about providing people with this solution,” said Mba. “We may not be able to fix agriculture because that is not the only problem, we also need to talk about how we will address the social problems that are behind [food insecurity].