Monday, August 17, 2009

Food going to waste

An article from the Nigerian paper Next talks about the wasting of food in the country. Nigeria produces enough food but some of it goes to waste, as technologies to can or preserve the foods are not used.

From this article by writer Abiose Adelaja, we visit a shop keeper who talks about prices being a lot more than they should be.

“Tomatoes is too dear nowadays,” says a pepper seller at the Mushin Olosha market in Lagos. Before, this measure [a saucer] used to cost ₦20 and we even used to sell it at three for ₦50. At bigger markets like Mile 12, a measure like this [slightly bigger than the saucer] is ₦50.”

Pointing at the content of another seller’s baskets, she says, “Many people are now using this type of dry pepper and tin tomatoes to make stew.”

The situation is not peculiar to Mushin. It is the same thing at Ijora, Ajegunle and many other markets where pepper and other vegetables are sold at high rates. A buyer, Sylvia Ekezie, says: “A bunch of Ugwu leaves (a green leafy vegetable) now costs ₦50. Before, I used to buy it for ₦20. Now, to make a pot of stew is so much money.”

Commenting on the food situation, the national secretary of the Nigeria Institute of Food Science and Technology, Osaretin Ebuehi, says the high food prices are caused by a lack of technology for storing food when in season.

“We do not have technologies for food preservation and storage, so when these foods are in season, there is a lot of post-harvest loss and wastage,” he says. “When in season, the food item in question can be so cheap - available because it is surplus - but once the season is gone, scarcity and food shortage begins.”

According to him, the government has not funded food technologies, not invested in agriculture and not encouraged the nation’s youth to go into agriculture. He also says that banks are not ready to give loans to encourage farmers.

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