The Gourmand Project takes a cue from the hugely successful Babban gona initiative addressing the challenge from the ground up. Vegetable farming and processing is predominantly female occupation in Nigeria. The productivity and output of these women is severely hampered by inaccessible and sub-standard inputs like seeds and fertilizer. At other times, important equipment such as pumping machines for irrigation prove too exorbitant. At this stage, we support communal/cooperative procurement initiatives for equipment, and organize bulk purchase of fertilizers and seedlings from major distributors. Output enhanced
After production growers must either sell produce cheaply at the farm gate or at open-air markets where the conditions are best described as a food safety nightmare. The very least of these food safety infractions involves processing (plucking and shredding) these vegetables without washing. There is excessive loss of soluble and sensitive nutrients when vegetables are washed after shredding. More still, most farmers rarely have access to more profitable target markets like food service operations such as hotels and private boarding schools. The lack the financial capacity nor distribution infrastructure to reach these lucrative markets.
The Gourmand addresses these challenges in two steps:
First in conjunction with a pilot group of farmer’s cooperative, we set up a communal post-harvest processing facility proximal to the second largest fresh produce market in Lagos and within easy reach of farming communities in neighbouring states and within the city limits. It is the first of many that would be replicated across farming communities in the country. The facility boasts a mix of Do-It-Yourself (up to 70%) and imported machinery that undertake tasks ranging from washing, de-watering, sorting, drying and shredding. In a nut shell, we would undertake basic post-harvest processing of fresh produce, converting them into them into ready-to-cook products.
The facility would be supplied directly with our partner farming cooperatives who benefit from direct support in making bulk purchase of fertilizer to lower costs, low cost rental of equipment like pumping machines and quality extension services. This initiative would boost their yields and productivity and ultimately raise their income levels, because they would get a share of the increased margins earned from the higher value products.
The second step is the launch of the Afro Gourmet brand. Afro Gourmet is a range of Ready-to-cook products such as peeled potatoes, shredded and chopped leafy greens, and pre-peeled beans for making local delicacies like moi-moi and akara. These products are minimally or lightly processed foods with ‘fresh-like’ qualities that offer convenience and speed up meal preparation times.
Consumers are becoming more health conscious in their food choices, but have less time to prepare healthy meals. Indeed, with rising food costs, more people are consuming at least one meal at home. On the other hand, food service operations more often than not outsource processing of most leafy greens to vendors who resort to the open market. The vegetables are not washed or cleaned before they are manually shredded. Washing after shredding leads to excessive loss of soluble and sensitive nutrients.
Ready-to-cook products when supplied to consumer/food service operations in a convenient format, peeled, sliced, shredded or pre-washed and dried, comprise a new category of products that ensure that consumers benefit from an enriched diet.
We are combining these products with an on-demand delivery service, powered by a cloud-based supply-chain execution platform. This means that food service operations can enjoy same-day delivery anywhere within the Lagos metropolis.