By Vincent Kalu
Postharvest Loss Alliance for Nutrition (PLAN), under the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), in partnership with the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, has taken its campaign on promoting the adoption of Returnable Plastic Crates for handling fresh fruits and vegetables to Idera Model Market Agege and Oyingbo Market, in Lagos State.
This was aimed at reducing loss associated with the use of weaved raffia baskets in the transportation and storage of farm produce in the country. PLAN said it would equally educate traders on the advantages of using the returnable plastic crates over weaved raffia baskets.
Also, the campaign is targeted at educating traders on the need to ensure that their perishable agricultural produce are competitive in conformity with international standards in view of Lagos status as a mega city by using approved plastic crates as containers.
Speaking at the event, Director Agricultural Services, Lagos State, Mrs. Ayoade Abiola, represented by the state Project Officer for Produce Vehicles/ Crate Project, Adegboyega Adebisi, said the commonly used weaved raffia basket was unsafe and obsolete, as raffia/palm fronds harboured illness- causing pathogens.
He noted that the raffia baskets also caused spoilages due to compression were not easily weighable, while the plastic crates were durable washable, reusable and toughened with appropriate perforations/openings to discourage direct contact of items when stacked on each other.
Also speaking at the event, the Senior Project Manager PLAN, Dr. Augustine Okoruwa, who was represented by Ayodele Tella, Senior Associate PLAN said: “We are trying to promote the use of returnable plastic crates for handling fresh fruits and vegetables in place of the weaved basket that has been used over the past decades in Nigeria. It has been identified that there is significant postharvest loss along this value chain and we have identified packaging as one of the causative factors for high prevalent losses. We have also identified lack of processing in the value chain.