Action-Focused Workshop Engaged Nigeria’s Private Sector in Reducing Post-Harvest Loss and Unlocking Potential in the Tomato Value Chain

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As Africa’s second largest producer of tomatoes, Nigeria produces nearly 2 million tons annually, yet up to 40 percent of the crop never makes it to market, impacting food security and smallholder farmers’ incomes.

Some 45 Nigerian and global business leaders in the Nigeria’s agriculture industry met for two days on Nov. 1- 2 in Lagos, Nigeria, to find market-led solutions to the post-harvest losses facing the country’s tomato value chain.

Organized by the Initiative for Global Development (IGD), in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation’s Yieldwise initiative, the workshop, “Making Markets Work: A Private Sector Workshop on Reducing Postharvest Loss and Unlocking Potential in the Nigerian Tomato Value Chain”, sought to lay the foundation for stronger partnerships between companies to catalyze effective collaboration to achieve value chain efficiencies and address gaps and bottlenecks. The Yieldwise initiative is led by PYXERA Global in Nigeria.

“IGD partnered with the Rockefeller Foundation’s YieldWise initiative for this action-focused workshop to bring together African private sector perspectives to find innovative and practical solutions to minimize crop losses and to build an efficient, productive food chain,” said Helen Mant, IGD Senior Advisor. Mant leads IGD’s participation in the Yieldwise initiative to promote private sector engagement and identify market-led approaches to reducing post-harvest loss in targeted value chains.

By convening key value chain actors, workshop participants recognized the need for stronger business linkages and cross-sector partnerships and alliances across Nigeria’s tomato industry to cut post-harvest losses.

Market-led solutions put forward by participants would involve connecting aggregated smallholder farmers to structured market demand, unlocking access to PHL-reducing technologies and finance, and influencing key actors to prioritize investments in loss prevention.

Business leaders at the workshop stressed the importance of building an integrated value chain in the tomato industry, noting that, to date, most stakeholders in the value chain have been working in silos rather than collaboratively.

Mira Mehta, founder and CEO of Tomato Jos agreed. Mehta emphasized that smallholder farmers and processors must work together to meet local market demands and scale the local tomato industry.

“It will take two to three years to get smallholder farmers ready to go and then also to get the processing facilities prepared to produce on the scale that is needed to meet demand in Nigeria. We need to be doing the work to get the system in place in the meantime,” said Mehta.

Other key topics discussed at the workshop included expanding access to high quality seeds and other inputs for smallholder farmers to achieve higher yields; bio-safety, standards and certifications; and greater access to finance and financial incentives for smallholders.

During a “shark tank” style session, eight participants shared solutions to address challenges in the value chain including railway transport, cold chain solutions, solar water pumping, centralized mini-grids for pre-processing, mobile agro-tech solutions, and collapsable plastic crates.

Creating an enabling environment for Nigeria’s tomato industry to achieve business growth and reduce post-harvest loss were raised at the workshop. Participants in a policy session identified their top policy obstacles to business growth and bolstering the incomes of smallholder farmers, and collectively committed to addressing these issues through the development of a private sector-led, multi-signatory policy paper to be shared with top Nigerian policymakers.

As participants look to move forward in addressing the challenges in the tomato industry, PYXERA Global’s YieldWise project director Adam Suleiman issued a challenge: “Improving Nigeria’s business environment is more than making policy changes in the government. It is asking how the private sector wants to be game changers in tomato production.”

The workshop concluded with participants committing to forming a private sector working group together that will focus on advancing the Nigerian tomato value chain and reducing PHL, and to creating an information repository that will serve as a “one-stop shop” for best practices, production results and case studies, curriculum, contacts and knowledge on storage, solar, cold chain, and logistics solutions, as well as market intelligence and pricing data.

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ABOUT THE INITIATIVE FOR GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT (IGD)
The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization that engages and harnesses the power of the private sector to create sustainable development and inclusive growth in Africa. IGD brings together an influential Frontier Leader network of CEOs and senior executives from leading African and global companies to catalyze greater business investment and impact on the continent. For more information, visitwww.igdleaders.org.