Thomas Kumolu-Johnson

Ashoka Fellow
Lagos, Nigeria
Fellow Since 2002


This profile was prepared when Thomas Kumolu-Johnson was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Thomas sees the astronomical prices of food items in Nigeria as a result not necessarily of low production, but rather the result of myriad middlemen in the distribution chain and poor knowledge of food storage. To help solve these problems, he is creating "markets of convenience" where farmers' products are sold directly to consumers at less than half the price of the same food at regular markets.
Furthermore, he is eradicating practices in the food production and distribution process that adulterate and even poison food items before they reach the consumer. For instance, to increase the quantity of vegetable oil, distributors sometimes mix it with petroleum-based oil; iodized salt is mixed with table salt; and garri (a staple food made from cassava) is packaged in contaminated bags previously used for storing chemicals or even caustic soda. Thomas's initiative is the first in Nigeria to attempt to bring food that has passed reliable health safety inspection checks to consumers at an affordable price. With the help of his allies, Thomas plans to spread his idea to all states of Nigeria.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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