Nigeria struggles to keep pace with growing population

BBC Environment correspondent Jonathan Amos in Lagos

For generations, peanuts, palm oil and water melon have formed the cornerstone of Nigerian cuisine. But with population growth and lack of farmland, many traditional recipes could be in danger of going the way of the telly set.

The president of the Sugar Producers Association of Nigeria, Chikezie Ikemogobia, says that even a diet rich in fruit could be stretched too far. “It’s very dangerous for you to eat too much fruit. You don’t always get the vitamin C from the fruit. By the time you drink it, you are wasting a lot of your daily allowance.”

In Nigeria there are now two ColdHubs [the word comes from the term “heating” instead of “storage] that can store up to 20 tonnes of foodstuff. They are operated by volunteers from various community groups, with financial support from the World Bank. The “heating” part of cold storage means they could ensure food is stored for up to two years. “We have had to shelve a lot of rice and vegetable stuff,” explains Mr Ikemogobia. “So we want to make sure that this can still remain the staple for our people.” But there are several challenges to developing and maintaining effective ColdHubs.

Enclosures for the top tier of the facility are made of plastic sheeting. But the next tier is made from granite.

“That’s quite expensive to put the cavities,” says Mr Ikemogobia. “It is about 1.5 million dollars,” he calculates. But that has not deterred him and he is quick to add that if the storage facility in his area is successful, then there will be a third ColdHub, and an eighth, more widely established by the end of this year. But he feels that the challenges of funding and maintaining ColdHubs will not be for the fainthearted.

“Some of the countries that have got cold storage facilities, they don’t turn them around and have a private sector-led strategic investment in real time,” he explains. “I think that could be a very difficult challenge. You need an internal institutional investment.” Jonathan Amos is the BBC’s Environment correspondent

Read Jonathan’s blog The most read story on BBC News on 8 February 2017

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