By Onome Amuge
The Nigerian Stored Produce Research Institute (NSPRI) has enjoined farmers and stakeholders in the agriculture sector to facilitate the adoption of technology towards curtailing post-harvest loss affecting the agricultural sector.
Patricia Pessu, the institute’s executive director, made the call during the Nigeria Post-harvest and Agroprocessing Summit (NIPHAS), a virtual webinar hosted by the AgriQuest Africa Network (AQAN), a leading agribusiness management consulting firm.
According to Pessu, the application of technology is expedient in sustaining not only crops and vegetables but every aspect of post-harvest in the agriculture sector, including livestock, poultry and fish storage.
She disclosed that the NSPRI, a major research institute under the auspices of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), has employed technology-based devices towards tackling post-harvest losses through the construction of Evaporative Coolant System (ECS) for storage of fresh fruits and vegetables, provision of ventilated reusable plastic crates for packaging and transportation of vegetables, Ice fish boxes for storage and handling of fresh fish, hermetic anti-rust steel drums with the capacity to store multiple dried durable products and also, conversion of crops into flour (wheat flour, poundo yam, ground rice and beans flour) to prolong their elasticity and prevent spoilage.
Pessu spoke of the need for increased popularisation of NSPRI technologies and its availability to all stakeholders for adoption, to ensure food sustainability and security, thereby reducing hunger, malnutrition and sicknesses.
She also encouraged an attitudinal change in storage, transportation, processing and marketing practices by all relevant actors in the food storage value chain.
Augustine Okoruwa, head, Eatsafe Country Programmes, Food Safety, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), who also spoke at the event, noted that post-harvest loss has a significant impact on the fresh fruits and vegetables value chain as it affects access to quality, nutritious foods for consumers and economic power of farmer livelihoods.
He suggested the need to promote an integrated post-harvest management system where the small holder farmers are trained on improving quality and reducing losses on the farm by using maturity indices, gentle handling, presorting protective packages and primary processing.
He also stressed on the need for proximate processing whereby food processing facilities close to the point of production are set up, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are encouraged into the processing of fresh fruits and vegetables into salads and sauces. He spoke of the need to develop third party logistics and cold-chain transportation in response to consumer needs.
Okoruwa also asserted that the government can foster partnerships by creating an enabling environment and also patronising local technologies that are commercially viable, and reducing tariff on imported agro-processing equipment.
The Nigeria Post-harvest & Agro-processing Summit (NIPHAS) is an annual forum targeted at transforming the future of the agricultural post-production sector. The Summit is an initiative of the AgriQuest Africa Network to bring together agriculture analysts and experts for discussions on the direction and flow of Post-harvest Management & Agro-processing technology for Nigeria’s agribusiness development.