Government urged to help growers

Major Nigerian exporter sees chance to create millions of jobs, cut post-harvest losses and earn foreign exchange

A major exporter of Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) fruits and vegetables in Nigeria has called on the Federal Government to support more private sector initiatives in the cultivation of fruit and vegetables in Africa's most populous country.

Local magazine Business Day reported that Venus Processing and Packaging Ltd (VPPL), a member of the Primlaks Group, wants government support of expansive cultivation and processing of local fruit and vegetables using the latest IQF technology.

The firm believes it would help to create millions of jobs, reduce post-harvest losses and earn foreign exchange.

Ravi Hemnani, group chief executive of Primlaks, said: “IQF technology involves quick-freezing of freshly-harvested fruits and vegetables to lock in all their vitamins, nutrients and natural goodness. The technology offers a lot of benefits, particularly because recent research efforts have suggested that frozen foods are better than fresh as they give higher levels of vitamins and anti-oxidants,”

VPPL has invested heavily in research and packaging before setting up Nigeria’s first IQF factory, as well as securing local and international certifications to achieve the delivery of products that meet world-class standards.

“We pioneered IQF fruit and vegetable production in Nigeria because we observed that Nigeria suffers from an estimated 40 per cent post-harvest loss that should not be allowed to continue, and we know that IQF has the potential to stop this unacceptable waste,” Hemnani added. “We believe that our efforts will help in achieving the objectives of the Federal Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda and offer Nigeria a huge revenue earning opportunity.”

Hemnani believes government assistance to growers of local fruits and vegetables would create room for increased production, processing, utilisation and export.

VPPL’s investment in IQF technology has resulted in the production of the Sympli brand, which comprises products such as native chillies, as well as fruits like pineapple, papaya and mango.