FUTA TAKES FRESH VEGETABLES TO CONSUMERS
It is not enough to make vegetables part of the daily diet. But the vegetable must be fresh and all its micronutrients intact. That is what Mrs. Oluranti Lawal, a lecturer with the Department of Food Science and Technology, Federal University of Technology Akure FUTA wants to achieve in collaboration with the Wageningen University & Research (WUR), a University and Research Centre in the Netherlands. Lawal is making fresh vegetables available to consumers in Akure under an initiative dubbed Veg-on-Wheels. The Veg-on Wheels programme entails the sourcing of fresh vegetables, cutting, washing and hygienically packaging the vegetables and bringing them to the doorstep of consumers. The vegetables are taken in refrigerated coolers to consumers at N50.00 per bundle
Speaking on the idea behind the project, Lawal said she carried out a survey and discovered that a sizable number of people had micro nutrient deficiency and were frequently diagnosed with various ailments as a result of low consumption of vegetables. Lawal said results of the survey also showed that people found the preparation of vegetable time consuming hence the need to remove the burden of processing vegetables for consumption. Corroborating her, a representative of WUR, Mrs. Harriette Snock stressed the importance and health benefits of consuming wholesome vegetables. She said the essence of the VEG-ON-WHEELS initiative is to move fresh green leafy vegetables that have been cleaned and hygienically packed from one selling point to the other, adding that it reduces transportation costs, preparation time, while wholesome vegetables are offered to consumers at a reasonable price.
Lawal added that the collaboration between FUTA and WUR is part of efforts to boost vegetable consumption in West Africa. She said vegetables were a good source of folic acid, iron, calcium, potassium and antioxidants which protect the body against disease causing pathogens.