Could a new app help reduce food waste in Nigeria?

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Food waste in Nigeria has hit $750 billion yearly, yet millions of people are facing starvation – a phenomenon that a new app developed by software engineer Oscar Ekponimo (winner of the Rolex Award for Enterprise) aims to end.

The new app, called Chowberry, aims to improve food accessibility and affordability for the poor, by notifying retailers in real time when their food items are close to expire,

thus encouraging them to offer special discounts on these items. Ekponimo stated that he stumbled upon the idea of developing this app when walking through the supermarket one day, He told that he picked up a can of tuna that was due to expire in a week, noticing that staff was also throwing away significant amounts of food that had reached its use-by date.

What is the reason for foodwaste

Food waste in Nigeria has various causes, including damage after harvesting and during transportation. Consumers are also to blame, since many buy larger amounts than they can consume. The use of garbage waste disposal units in countries like America don’t help, throwing food down the sink that could be consumed through a well-thought-out buying strategy is unacceptable. Shops can also do their share by reducing the amount of expired food thrown away, through computerised ordering systems and apps such as Chowberry.

Oscar Ekponimo’s Story

Oscar Ekponimo’s app has made major headlines the world over, with CNN sharing his private story. The engineer knows what it is like to live with hunger. When he was a child, his father had a partial stroke and was unable to work. Therefore, his family struggled economically and young Oscar attended school without food, relying on the charity of schoolmates. “I always said in the future I would do something to ensure others wouldn't go through what I went through,” he told CNN reporter, Yemisi Adegoke. Fast forward to 2017, when Chowberry began changing the way people shop. The app works simply, for both retailers and purchasers. Users search for low priced food products listed by stores, they order items from these lists, and are given a unique code. They then present this code to the store and collect their items.

How Could Chowberry Boost Food Affordability?

By inviting shoppers to buy items that are soon to expire, Chowberry enables them to take advantage of discounts, but also do their share to reduce food wastage. The app lists the number of days until each item expires, thus allowing shoppers to appreciate the urgency of their purchases. Categories are varied and easy to use. They include cereals, grains, packaged foods, canned foods, beverages, and more. Shoppers can enjoy discounts of up to 75%, increasing as the expiry date approaches.

The problem of food wastage in Nigeria is vast and clearly needs to be addressed with a multifaceted strategy. Improving food packaging, refining transport procedures for food, increasing awareness among citizens of ways to reduce amounts of food thrown away, and suggesting the use of discount apps like Chowberry can all do their share. So can the encouragement of simple measures like meal planning, avoiding bulk buys of perishable items, and finding ways to repurpose food.