The Challenge of Infrastructure Development on Preservation of Perishable Horticultural Produce for Sustained Urban Food Nutrition in Metropolitan Kaduna, Nigeria (Published)
Perishable horticultural crops as fruits and vegetables – rich vitamins, protein, minerals and fiber contents – contribute a lot to human diet. Though Nigeria produces enormous quantity of these produce, shortages in consumption and nutrition exists due to losses in the production value chain system. This is mainly attributed to lack of the development of an efficient management technique in the handling, transporting and storage systems; with attendant consequences on urban food and nutrition security in a rapidly urbanizing Nigeria. It is against this backdrop that this study was undertaken to identify the problems of handling technologies that would result in enhanced shelf-life of these commodities and healthier urban nutrition in metropolitan Kaduna, Nigeria; in 2010. Structured questionnaires and schedule interviews were used to randomly collect primary and secondary data. This was analyzed and presented using descriptive statistical analytical tools. Results indicated that the major factors affecting the storage quality of fruits and vegetables are bad roads (40%); improper production, handling and transportation (33. 33%) system; harsh weather (20%); while insect pest infestation (6.67%) was least. Baskets and sacks are still used as the predominant means of storage of produce (35% and 32% respectively). Indeed, a lot of losses are recorded due to bad roads at harvest. Incidentally, the refrigerating system, the most efficient means of preservation is not predominantly used because of its exorbitant cost; and high tariffs on electricity. Where cost is affordable, power supply is epileptic due to an underdeveloped power sector. It is concluded that the intractable challenge of lack of infrastructure poses a major developmental setback in Nigeria. Indeed, this is a key challenge against the evolvement of a sustainable post-harvest management system; as well as a drawback on the fight against hunger, malnutrition and poverty – foremost objective of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). Consequently, there is an imperative need for massive investment in infrastructural and human capital development. Without doubt, in Nigeria today, post-harvest and infrastructural management of the food production chain remains a major challenge.