Tackling food waste in Nigeria with an app
28 September 2018|18 Muharram 1440|BBC News
“Going without food for any person, for any child – it’s destabilising, it shakes you to your core. I remember being a child and going without food and being able to have just one good meal in a day.”
Oscar Ekponimo’s drive comes from a childhood fuelled by hunger. When his father got sick and couldn’t work, the whole family went hungry.
But now this tech entrepreneur in Nigeria’s capital Abuja thinks he has the answer to the problem of food inequality.
He’s the inventor of an app called Chowberry which connects people to supermarket food that would ordinarily end up in the bin.
It has already been taken up by 35 retailers, NGOs (non-government organisations) and other organisations in the country.
At a supermarket in Abuja, a sales assistant unloads shelves filled with semolina, a type of milled flour, into shopping trolleys. He’s preparing the products for collection by Thrifty Slayer – a charity that has bought these discounted items via Chowberry.
As we stand in one of the aisles, Oscar takes out a tablet to show me how the technology works. “We have a system on this app that allows retailers to put information about products that are about to expire.
“These products are deeply discounted because the products are reaching the end of their shelf life.
“The food would ordinarily be thrown away by the retailers, but with our system they have a way of saving their losses,” he adds.
“At the same time NGOs are able to take this food at a very reasonable price and acquire more food for distribution.”
Currently anyone can order food at a discount online, although there are 15 charities with priority access who are able to to order larger quantities.
Chowberry has a list of their preferences and sends them updates when it receives the type of food the charities need for their food distribution programmes.
The supermarket that Oscar is showing me round was an early adopter of Chowberry when it launched two years ago.
“Some of the shops we work with have said they’ve managed to save 80% of what they used to throw away,” he tells me.
A study commissioned by the United Nations indicates that globally, one-third of food produced for consumption is lost or wasted.
This amounts to 1.3 billion tonnes a year. UN figures also suggest that one in nine of us across the globe go to bed on an empty stomach – despite there being enough food in the world.