As a boy growing up in an average African home, Daniel Oseni was exposed to various African dishes prepared with tomatoes. In his words, “Purchasing these tomatoes was a nightmare because they easily got spoilt because the sellers didn’t have a proper preservation and storage system.”
Interestingly, Nigeria is the 14th largest tomato producer in the world, and the 2nd in Africa; producing more than 2.3 million tonnes every year. Unfortunately, the country spends more than $9.8 billion on importing tomatoes because it doesn’t meet the demand for fresh produce. In previous years, Nigeria has experienced more than 56 percent of waste due to a lack of proper storage and preservation facilities.
To solve this problem, Daniel founded PeriPES, a natural cooling system that preserves and stores tomatoes for up to 3 to 4 months without getting spoilt. PeriPES is made out of clay bricks, sand water, and air.
It works by reducing the room temperature of the tomatoes to less than 15°C at 90 percent humidity, in order to stop the production of ethylene, which is the major chemical component that causes ripening and spoilage in all agricultural products. In his words, “Our technological input is harnessing the power of nature to preserve.
This science is known as evaporative cooling. It is a circular movement of moist air from a cooler region to a hotter region, by passing through a damp sand medium. It is a very viable and stable means of preservation because it creates a conducive humidity for the tomatoes, which helps to retain the nutritional value.”
Daniel believes that tomato farmers, wholesalers, and retailers in Nigeria will benefit from his solution. His primary target is those in the “Shasha” market located in the Ondo state of Western Nigeria.
“This market is one of the biggest markets for tomatoes in the Southwestern region of the country. Daniel believes that if he is successful, the world will be better off because “PeriPES will reduce the carbon footprint being released into the atmosphere every day. It will reduce post-harvest loss by over 50 percent, and reduce the scarcity of tomatoes, which usually leads to the inflation of the tomato prices.”
He believes that PeriPES will ensure the availability of tomatoes all year round, and will subsequently increase the GDP of the Nigerian economy.
Recently, Daniel emerged as the grand prize winner of the 2023 Savvy Prize for Impact-Driven Entrepreneurs. When asked how the Savvy Prize will help his project become successful, he said, “With our passion and resilience, we will replicate our solution to 8 other Nigerian states that are major producers of tomatoes.
“We will ensure that PeriPES will reach other crop farmers that are vegetable and fruit farming, such as pepper, onion, okra, carrot, cucumber, and cabbage. In the long run, we will save the agricultural sector of the Nigerian economy by reducing the waste coming out by over 50 percent.”
Daniel and his team will also focus on increasing their visibility by 45 to 80 percent, for more productivity and profitability. After receiving the Savvy Prize, he is looking for more investment opportunities in order to expand.
Daniel’s vision is a Nigeria where “the prize of tomatoes is normalized, and when PeriPES reaches the hands of over 75 percent of tomato farmers in the country.” He envisioned a country where tomatoes are available all year round without abnormal increase in prices, and when the tomato market becomes well saturated.”
Daniel’s team is made up of Robinson Osas, Ogunlade Busayo, and Omoniyi Joshua. Osas is an agriculturist with a specialization in crop, soil, and pest management.
Busayo is a bio-medical scientist with experience in crop health services and waste management, while Joshua is an Architect with experience in social media management. Daniel believes his team is the right fit to solve this problem because they’re innovative and creative individuals with experience and knowledge in preservation, storage, and food handling.