An international container terminal operator, APM Terminals Inland Services, has launched a refrigerated truck operation to address spoilage of farm produce.
The service, which will be provided in conjunction with several international development groups, will deliver alternative cold chain transport for the country’s farmers.
An estimated 15 million metric tonnes of Nigerian-grown perishable goods, including onions, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, okra, ginger and carrots, are lost annually due to poor logistics infrastructure and high transportation costs through spoilage and product damage.
The firm’s Apapa Managing Director, Martin Jacob, said: “New investment in cold chain infrastructure will clearly be an important growth driver for the economy. We, along with our partners, aim to offer our landside customers both the service and expertise necessary to protect perishables for domestic markets and open new international market opportunities through Nigerian ports.”
According to reports, as much as half of Nigeria’s domestic tomato crop of 1.8 million metric tonnes does not get to the market due to spoilage or damage during transportation while packed in traditional woven raffia baskets and moved by conventional trucking.
On December 1st, the first trial shipment of 18.6 metric tonnes of fresh tomatoes, packed into 933 crates each containing 20 kilogrammes, were loaded into a refrigerated container for the 1,045 kilometres (650 mile) trip from Dutsen Wai, in Kaduna State, to Lagos.
In the controlled reefer environment, heat spoilage, as well as bruising damage from cargo shifting during transport was eliminated – and the entire truckload arrived intact and ready for sale or further transport.
APM Terminals partnered with Naija Pride for the tomato shipment, in cooperation with United States (U.S.)-based TechnoServe, an international non-profit organisation that promotes business solutions in 29 countries.
Naija Pride is owned by Emmanuel Ijewere, the Vice- Chairman of the Nigerian Agribusiness Group (NABG), which is co-chaired by Sani Dangote, Dangote Group’s Vice chairman.
The United Kingdom (UK) Department for International Development (DFID) – funded Growth and Employment in States (GEMS4) programme, and the U.S.-based Rockefeller Foundation-funded Yieldwise project were also on-site in Dutsen Wai as observers.
They provided advice on cold chain supply opportunities that benefit the agricultural industry and end-user customer.