The federal government has concession 17 silos with 6,000 metric tons of storage capacity to the private sector to provide farmers with access to storage facilities in an effort to alleviate the difficulties of post-harvest losses. Also, the government has set up green aggregation centers that would clean, dry, process, and bag finished products, generating about N18 billion for the country’s economy. It has been revealed that post-harvest losses adversely affect over 30% of Nigeria’s annual food production owing to inadequate infrastructure for storing, processing, and transporting food.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, at the Second West and Central Africa Post-Harvest Congress and Exhibition (WCAPHCE) 2022, tagged “Upscaling and Promotion of African Indigenous Food to global standards” in Abuja. The minister stressed that it is the government’s responsibility to provide an enabling environment for the private sector to drive the economy. He said that the government is working to address food security challenges in the country and Africa.
Post-harvest losses are due to a lack of access to equipment.
Abubakar, who was represented by the Director of Food and Strategic Reserve at the Ministry, Dr. Haruna Suleiman, said that post-harvest losses are the most challenging issue for the farmers due to lack of access to necessary equipment and facilities. However, he explained that the green aggregation centers would enable farmers to be able to clean and dry their agricultural produce during harvests, increasing the value of the goods generated there and reducing post-harvest losses.
Furthermore, Benue State University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Tor Lorapuu, has said that the university is collaborating with other partners to increase domestic food production and reduce post-harvest losses as much as possible. Research and practical techniques supplied to small and large-scale farmers, as stated by Lorapuu, might help achieve this goal. He went on to praise the federal government for supplying silos around the nation. Lorapuu said that the goal is for the private sector to increase local farmers’ food storage capacity and reduce post-harvest losses.
Institute is building models that will index all food crops.
On his part, Barnabas Ikyo, Director of the Center of Food Technology and Research at Benue State University, said the center prioritized reducing post-harvest food losses in West and Central Africa. Therefore, he underlined the need to focus on local produce foods by creating and improving their market viability to encourage farmers to increase production, which would ultimately lead to a decrease in the trade imbalance (import and export). He said that the country’s market and pricing control authorities were rendered ineffective due to a failure to enforce existing laws and regulations.
According to Ikyo, the institute is building models and online platforms that will index all food crops in Nigeria so that anyone who wants to purchase or sell wherever they are can go online and check the amount they are sold in various regions of the nation. With this strategy, he added, farmers would be informed of how much groceries are sold in different regions. Ikyo highlighted that with the farmers’ backing, the project would gain more attention and value, which would draw more individuals into the food processing chain and add considerable value to food items.
Center’s focus is imparting farmers with technical knowledge.
Farmers will be enlightened on how to process food products like tomatoes at the farm level and be preservable for four months, how to dehydrate some other fresh vegetables and keep them to still maintain the fresh taste when they are cooked. Ikyo said that the center’s mission includes imparting this kind of technical knowledge to local farmers. Farmers who know their harvests will keep for months will be less likely to give in to the cheap offers of merchants.