The Federal Government has said it is committed to ensure the improvement of the economy and to concretise the diversification to agriculture as it concludes arrangements to save over $8 billion.
The government also said it intends to achieve this through an agency under the federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI) in Ilorin, Kwara State.
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri made this known when the Executive Director of NSPRI, Professor Olufemi Peters and his team visited the minister in Abuja.
Lokpobiri said that the institute has been able to fabricate and develop technologies that reduce the storage problems of all food crops in Nigeria with the aim of increasing Nigerian’s agricultural self sufficiency through adequate post harvest loss reduction.
He further said this no doubt, will greatly ensure that agricultural produce will be properly kept within the food supply chain.
Speaking further, the minister said that findings from 2013 FAO factsheets and NSPRI survey conducted in all geo-political zones in 2013, estimated food losses to be 51.3 MT across all crops, valued at $8 billion.
According to him, the present government has achieved increased food production and has also identified and is adequately addressing the high percentage losses along all stages in the post harvest value chain as part of the solution to food security and to enhance exportation of agricultural produce to boost Nigerian foreign exchange reserve.
Lokpobiri also assured the team from NSPRI of government’s determination to support and strengthen the research institute with necessary funding, to enable them perform their mandate, among which is the development of post harvest technologies for farmers and cottage industries.
In his remarks, Professor Olufemu, briefed the minister on their efforts and achievements in positioning the institute in playing a critical role in the country’s quest for not only food security and sufficiency, but also as a foreign exchange earner and economic booster.
He also stated that the institute will continue to develop appropriate post harvest technologies for farmers, agro-allied industries and other relevant stakeholders.
The institute has so far carried out research into the improvement and maintenance of qualities of all crops, as well as fisheries and livestock.