We are adopting all-inclusive solution to tackle food waste, says Biteye
Early this year, the Rockefeller Foundation, launched a new initiative-YieldWise, to curb Food waste and spoilage across the world. So far, a great progress has been recorded. The foundation’s Managing Director Africa, Africa Regional Office, Mamadou Biteye, told GBENGA AKINFENWA, in an online interview what Nigeria stands to benefit, especially in the area of reducing food waste.
What is the YieldWise initiative about and how many African countries are you focusing on at present?
YieldWise was launched in 2016, it is a $130 million initiative aimed at reducing food loss and waste by half by 2030 across four value chains: cassava and tomato (in Nigeria) mango (in Kenya) and maize (in Tanzania).
Food loss and waste is an all-inclusive problem, eliminating it requires an all-inclusive solution that looks across the global food system to identify where the biggest losses occur and provide incentives for solving the problems at the root. With large multinational companies like Coca-Cola and Dangote as key collaborators, the initiative will focus on linking small and big businesses that can mutually benefit from diversified sources for products and enhanced markets.
YieldWise focuses on four great opportunities for transformation, they include; helping farmers access technologies and solutions to curb preventable crop loss; fixing broken links in the chain from farms to markets in African communities; engaging global businesses to account for the food wasted in their supply chains, beyond their own factories and farms; encouraging models and government policies that drive mutual economic growth, such as modern export policies.
To kick off, our focus has been on four value chains fruits and vegetables, cereals and grains and roots and tubers. In Nigeria, we are working with 20,000 farmers in the tomato value chain in Kano State; in Kenya, we are focusing on 20,000 mango farmers in the eastern and coastal regions and in Tanzania, we are working with about 50,000 farmers on cereals, specifically maize across nine regions.
Our biggest strategy has been to train farmers to use proven technologies that preserve crops after harvest, packaging and distribution.
What strategies are being deployed to the Tomato Value Chain in Nigeria and how many states would benefit from the intervention?
In Nigeria, Pyxera- (who is the implementing partner of YieldWise in Nigeria) is working with farmers in Kano State to equip tomato farmers with skills in Post-harvest loss (PHL) management in the tomato value chain. They are aggregating farmers and training them on PHL technologies, linking these farmers to markets.
In the model, we have two markets for an anchor buyer. Currently Dangote processing factory is the anchor buyer under the initiative. We also have what we call the alternative markets and this case would be large tomato traders, retails stores that would be able to provide consistent access to market. PYXERA are also linking farmers to finance.
One year since inception of the initiative there are some promising signs of success. These include-aggregated farmers within YieldWise were connected to the Dangote processing factory that was able to process the first batch of tomatoes since opening plant three years ago; 10,000 farmers have been aggregated and connected to 15 alternative market channels; and PYXERA has been able to introduce simple PHL technologies, such as plastic crates with high PHL success rate (reduced PHL by 78 per cent, amongst the small sample of farmers piloted with).
Some of the partners PYXERA are working with include-Dangote Farms Limited (DFL); Kano Farmers’ Cooperative; Kano State Government; Agriculture and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA); DFID /Coffey International /World Bank GEMS4 Project; Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD); World Bank Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING) Project, RTI / Sustainable Food Lab; and IGD among others.
One of the focus areas of YieldWise is on fruits and vegetables with a focus on Tomatoes in Nigeria. We have seen efforts in the past by government and private sectors, which never worked, what would you do differently this time around?
The YieldWise model is different from other models. YieldWise is looking at Food Waste and Loss as an inclusive problem and is implementing an all-inclusive solution that looks across the value chain to tackle the issue. The YieldWise Model is; helping farmer’s access technologies and solutions to curb preventable crop loss; fixing broken links in the chain from farms to markets in African communities; engaging global businesses to account for the food wasted in their supply chains, beyond their own factories and farms; and encouraging models and government policies that drive mutual economic growth, such as modern export policies.
Other Food Waste interventions in the past have focused solely on one element in the value chain not looking at the interconnection between the elements and the whole value chain.
Nigeria is the largest producer of tomatoes in Sub-Saharan Africa, yet the farmers are poor, how would tomato farmers benefit maximally through this initiative?
Despite Nigeria being the largest producer of tomatoes globally, the level of loss from farm to market is high. The fresh market is flooded with the produce especially during peak seasons and farmers face challenges in storing the tomatoes for longer periods or accessing alternative markets.
YieldWise has been designed to tackle this challenges. Despite offering simple PHL technologies to farmers, we have linked the farmers to the Dangote processing factory where they can sell their tomato for processing into tomato paste. We have also connected them to alternative market channels (traders and retail stores) that provide volume commitments to farmers, enabling them to invest in good agronomic prices
The YieldWise initiative is also working with private, public and non-profit stakeholders globally; hence farmers are gaining the necessary skills to produce better crop and how to reduce waste. The impact of the initiative spans across all sectors of the economy. The benefits of the initiative are all encompassing. For farmers-recovering food lost immediately following harvest can increase the income of smallholder farmers by 15 per cent, increasing prosperity and consumer spending in emerging economies.
For business-the global business community instinctively works to identify and eliminate loss and waste in their own operations. We have created tools that businesses need to measure and track supply chain loss, which encourage accountability, increase profits and strengthen supply chains. YieldWise also strengthens local commitments by bringing small and medium businesses (SMEs) to the table. As important as multinational corporations are to YieldWise’s success, they’re only part of the story- community partnerships within Africa are vital to the shared commitment needed to help the continent thrive.
In the last one-year, we have been able to introduce plastic crates to replace the raffia bags that have traditionally been used to transport tomatoes. The design of the crates has allowed farmers to transport their produce easily with minimal damage.
This season we will also be working with Cold Hubs that will be providing cold storage facilities at Garum Mallan market in Kano. The storage unit will enable farmers/traders to store their produce at a fee, enabling them to extend shelf life of their produce.