May 1, 2024

Nigeria Adopts Solar-powered Cold Storage to Combat Losses

With the opening of a solar-powered cold storage facility in Enugu, led by local entrepreneurs, post-harvest losses in Nigeria's agriculture sector are being brought to light. The U.S. Consulate on Tuesday lauded the initiative.

Storages Addresses Post-harvest Waste Problem

Nigeria is grappling with substantial annual losses estimated at nearly $9 billion due to post-harvest waste, which is exacerbated by inadequate cold storage infrastructure, agro-processing, and transportation facilities. United States Consul General in Lagos, Will Stevens, highlighted the dire situation, emphasizing the need for urgent improvements in infrastructure to mitigate these losses and foster greater efficiency in the agricultural sector.

The United States' chief diplomat in Nigeria revealed this while inaugurating a solar-powered cold storage facility in Enugu, praising Manamuz Electric, a company led by Uzo Mbamalu, a Mandela Washington Fellow, for effectively completing the project. Businessday NG reported.

The Consul General praised the opening of Manamuz Electric's Aguobu Iwollo Refrigerated Aggregation Centre in Enugu State during a virtual speusech on Friday, April 26, 2024. Under the direction of Uzo Mbamalu, a Mandela Washington Fellow, the project is a major step in the fight against post-harvest losses in Nigeria's agriculture industry.

Stevens emphasised the crucial function played by Uzo Mbamalu, one of the 12,000 Nigerians who had taken part in government exchange programmes in the United States. Using his six-week exchange experience at the University of Nevada, Reno, Uzo established relationships that enabled this plan to come to pass. The initiative was further advanced by a grant from the U.S. Africa Development Foundation and technical and business advising support from the university's College of Business.

U.S. Government Collaborates with Nigerian Government

The U.S. Diplomat emphasised the importance of infrastructure in fostering inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development in Nigeria, as well as in other developing nations. Infrastructure facilitates access to employment opportunities, enables businesses to expand and prosper, and generates possibilities for all sectors of society, including marginalized communities.

The US diplomat stated: "Infrastructure is essential to promoting equitable and sustainable economic growth and development in Nigeria and other emerging economies. Infrastructure fosters opportunity for all facets of society, especially marginalised groups, and links workers to well-paying employment and enterprises."

He highlighted that the commissioning of the solar-powered cold storage facility is a singular instance illustrating the collaboration between the U.S. government, federal and state governments, and enterprises in advancing food security efforts in Nigeria.

Impact of Solar Power on Food Storage in Nigeria

In developing nations including Nigeria, the lack of crucial infrastructure like electricity and cold chain facilities results in significant post-harvest losses of perishable and nutritious commodities such as fruits and vegetables. However, solar power technology has emerged as a promising solution, offering the potential to decarbonize economies and uplift rural livelihoods.

A recent intervention in conflict-affected northeast Nigeria implemented solar-powered cold storage facilities to reduce food waste, boost consumption of nutrient-rich produce, enhance incomes for market agents and producers, and generate employment opportunities. The initiative yielded positive outcomes, including increased freshness of horticulture products, higher market sales, and improved vegetable availability in local communities.

Every cold storage unit operates on a system of 5.6-kilowatt solar panels, specifically comprising 18 out of the 380-W photovoltaic panels produced by Panasonic. Excess electricity produced during daylight hours is stored for later use, ensuring uninterrupted refrigeration throughout the night. Additionally, cold storage facilities utilize eco-friendly refrigerants such as propane, which pose fewer risks to the ozone layer compared to traditional alternatives.

Cost-benefit analysis indicated substantial long-term economic gains, underscoring the transformative impact of technological innovations in addressing development challenges.

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