The population of Nigerian mega cities such as Lagos is quickly expanding and rapidly accumulating wealth. This causes the food habits of the residents to change, but not always for the better. Nigeria faces serious challenges when it comes to food and nutrition security, sustainable food systems, and possible health burdens. Therefore Wageningen Economic Research started a cooperation with the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) to co-design effective interventions to contribute to healthier diets of urban consumers in Nigeria.
Vegetable consumption in urban Nigerians is too low
Our past research shows that consumers, especially in the lower socio-economic classes in the cities of Lagos and Ibadan, do not eat enough vegetables (Raaijmakers et al., 2018). They also found that 'health' and 'convenience' are two major motives to consume vegetables. Street food vendors, micro-restaurants and 'mama puts' are important providers of snacks, lunches or a hearty evening meal. The major motives could be powerful entry points for a combined intervention to increase availability and intake of vegetables at street food vendors and micro-restaurants.
Food system approach targets the entire value chain
The research focuses on street foods as important outlets for ready-to-eat food purchase. Many of such outlets receive their vegetables through the informal value chain which is often inefficient and suboptimal. This results in high transaction costs and substantial postharvest losses in both quantity and quality (Kok et al., 2019). Therefore, the project has a food systems approach and will explore interventions that target consumers but also the value chain.
Pilot project towards a healthier offering of street food
Together with NIFST the Wageningen Researchers will set up focus groups in Lagos to get insights in needs, wishes and demands of the local street food consumer, the street food vendors and their suppliers of vegetables. These focus group discussions, led by locally trained moderators, will provide insights into the current behaviour regarding vegetables and nutritional value and the underlying drivers of this behaviour. A participatory workshop involving vendors, suppliers and a consumer representative will result in a long- and shortlist of potential interventions using the approach for designing context specific locally owned interventions developed by Wageningen Economic Research (Plaisier et al., 2019). The most promising and supported intervention idea will be tested, developed and implemented in a pilot project in 2020.
The research will also provide evidence on potential intervention and the level of impact it can have.