How a 29-year-old is reshaping Nigeria’s agricultural value chain with plastic crates

Muhammad Yakubu Bubayaro is an expert in agricultural technology and an advocate for the use of new technologies by farmers. Daily Trust reports how the 29-year-old, through his company, Bunkasa Agri-tech, is reshaping the agricultural value chain through the introduction of returnable plastic crates to replace raffia in transport and storage vegetables. Bubayaro argues that this will serve as a panacea for post-harvest losses for farmers in the country and will also ensure that the vegetables are safe for consumers.

Muhammad Yakubu Bubayaro grew up around the Mile 12 international market; a market in Lagos renowned for selling fresh agricultural produce across Africa.

Growing up, Bubayaro became familiar with the pains of farmers whose perishable agricultural products sometimes ended up in waste transporting them from the north of the country to the south. He is committed to impacting the lives of farmers by ensuring they are rewarded for their work, improving investments in the fresh produce value chain and ensuring consumers get vegetables. fresh and safe for consumption.

With the requisite knowledge and skills in agriculture and technology, the expert in agricultural technology, who now works as the director of media and information technology at the international market Mile 12, launched the Bunkasa Agric-tech; an agriculture-focused initiative to redefine the way perishable agricultural products are packaged and transported from farms in the north to the south of the country.

With this initiative, Bubayaro focused on redefining and encouraging farmers to adopt what he described as a “redesigned way of easily packaging and transporting farm-fresh produce.”

“We emphasize the importance of adopting and using plastic crates as a substitute for raffia baskets, which is the safest way to preserve the goods for end consumers,” said the agro expert. -technology, explaining that the use of raffia baskets in the transport of farm-fresh produce should be discouraged.

Bubayaro, a native of Karaye in Kano State and an alumnus of the prestigious Barewa College, Kaduna and the British Chartered Institute of Information Technology (BCS), believes that Bunkasa Agri-tech will help bridge the gap by equipping farmers with good technologies. , new plantings and the promotion of the use of plastic crates in the storage and transport of fresh produce, in order to significantly minimize post-harvest losses.

He said the use of technologically improved seedlings, which are sold to farmers at affordable prices, has started in the northwestern states of Kano and Kaduna, with plans to expand the initiative to Ogun and Kaduna states. of Oyo in the southwest.

He attaches great importance to the use of plastic crates as substitutes for raffia baskets because, according to him, plastic crates help keep merchandise fresh while preventing it from shrinking.

He added that by adopting the new technology, fresh produce will remain hygienic, safe and attractive to consumers. “And in the crates, farmers can sort the ripe, unripe and rotten ones into different places for quick marketing,” he said.

“In the case of the raffia baskets, they are all in the same place. This situation often discourages foreign buyers who come to the market daily from various African countries. These types of buyers are also looking for the best products because they don’t compromise on standards,” he explained.

Daily Trust found that Bunkasa’s website provides periodic information on agricultural commodity price changes and other vital information accessible to farmers and consumers.

Besides plastic crates, Bunkasa has also introduced organic fertilizer for tomatoes, vegetables and herbs made from eggshells.

But like any innovation, farmers’ adoption of Bubayaro’s modern technology has not been fully embraced. He explained that this could be due to a lack of awareness or awareness of its effectiveness in making the produce on their farm last longer. “For us, at Bunkasa Agri-tech, we do everything so that farmers maximize their profit,” he assured.

He said that even though the Nigerian government and other agricultural partners insist on the use of cold chains and cold rooms as the only means of preserving perishable goods, experts observed that it is only when the products fresh are transported safely to market as farmers would now think of storing them in cold rooms.

“Storage is a necessity because every farmer wants to sell the product on delivery and store the rest for a few days. So, the issue of storage should be the last go-to option for farmers transporting their goods from north to south,” he said.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel as Daily Trust understands that Bubayaro’s returnable plastic crates have been sighted in Jos, Kaduna and other parts of the country.

He says farmers are gradually accepting the use of crates, with demand now outstripping supply.

With the aim of improving consumers’ food health, Bubayaro explained that when fully adopted, the innovation will help consumers avoid the risk of exposure to bacterial poisoning from eating rotten produce.

The agricultural technology expert, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of support from the government and other agricultural businesses to help change the narrative of the traditional use of raffia in bringing fresh produce to market.

He said that during the expansion of the technology’s reach, his company approached banks for loans, but was discouraged by the “exorbitant and high interest rates”.

Appreciating the inroads his technology is making in some parts of the country, Bubayaro said now is the time to embrace the use of returnable plastic crates, as most southern state governments are considering banning the transporting fresh produce in raffia baskets, as this violates their health laws.

“So I urge Northern Governors to help farmers by investing in plastic crate technology to help fresh produce farmers maximize their profits and secure food.

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