The Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, on Wednesday 9th November 2016 commissioned a new perishable produce railway logistics system at Dutsen Wai in Kubau Local Government Area of the state. This new system, which is the result of partnership between Growth and Employment in States – Wholesale and Retail Trade (GEMS4) and Connect Rail Services Limited (CRSL), will see the transportation of fresh perishables, especially tomatoes using returnable plastic crates (RPCs) in temperature controlled rail cabins from the North to the southern part of Nigeria.
This development, the organizer said, will not only improve the quality of tomatoes and other fresh perishables supplied from the North to the South but also increase income for small holder farms due to the reduction of post-harvest losses.
GEMS4 Group Intervention Manager, Mr Richard Ogundele said, “This is a national game changer that will lead to massive systemic changes, as the utilization of Returnable Plastic Crates (RPCs) in the supply chain will ensure quality produce and increased incomes, hence sustaining the gains of early harvesting.”
He further said that “because the railway system being employed is state of the art, transit times will not only be less but traders will be able to transport more harvest in a produce-friendly environment thus getting more value for their efforts.”
In an MOU between GEMS4 and Connect Rail Services, it was agreed that both organisations shall collaborate in developing engagement strategies required to support the use of temperature controlled railway logistics services for the transportation of fresh tomatoes and other farm perishables from Northern to Southern Nigeria.
This flag off ceremony is expected to herald a new beginning in the agricultural landscape of the country as geographical divides shall no longer create constraints in the value chain.
Growth and Employment in States – Wholesale and Retail Trade (GEMS4) is an economic development project jointly funded by the World Bank and DFID/UKaid, which utilizes the Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) approach by providing solutions to systemic constraints and the inclusion of small and micro enterprises into better functioning market systems.
The overarching goal is the creation of 10,000 new jobs and increased incomes for 500,000 poor people especially, women. GEMS4 is working with market actors, linking them and facilitating market incentives so they serve each other better. The project is also building local capacity for the supply end to meet the long-term needs of the demand side with benefits to the poor as target.