Selected 40 local farmers in the Ilorin East/Ilorin South federal constituency in Kwara state have been trained on how to reduce post-harvest losses in their agricultural production.
Speaking during the official opening of the training programme at the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI) Ilorin, facilitator of the programme and a member representing the federal constituency, Hon. Abdulganiyu S. Cook Olododo said one of the strategies to increase food production is to empower farmers with skills, adding that such include modern ways of drying agricultural produce.
“As part of revamping economic activities of my constituency and Kwara state, increasing agricultural production and post-harvest management would be targeted for poverty alleviation, job creation, food security and improved livelihood.
One of the failures of agricultural policies for addressing developmental challenges in developing countries particularly Nigeria is the lopsidedness of concentrating efforts on production at the expense of post-harvest activities. Yet, it is the agricultural activities such as storage and small scale processing after harvest that involves massive human engagement, which creates more small scale and family-based business.
Therefore, if agriculture is to be used for the development of the state, effective post-harvest management and value addition must be put in a place to complement the agricultural production activities. This way, agriculture will have a direct bearing on the economic viability of the zone and be beneficial to the nation”, he said.
The lawmaker also said that eight solar dryers, four in each of the two local government areas that make up Ilorin East/Ilorin South federal constituencies, is being constructed for use of the farmers.
He said that two of the solar dryers were ready for use by the farmers, adding that the solar dryers would help to ease ways farmers dry their farm produce and enhance hygienic food production as well as food sufficiency.
Olododo, who reiterated the need for economic diversification to the non-oil sector, said that agriculture plays a leading role in that regard.
“We cannot be left behind and there is no other time than now to acquire the skills needed in agribusiness. That is why we involve NSPRI and other consultants to train people on post seasonal management of roots and cereals and also on how to do business in agriculture”, he said.
Also speaking, the executive director NSPRI, Dr Patricia Pessu, who said that mandate of NSPRI centred on improved storage, post-harvest processing on perishable crops, storage facilities for a dry product, impact on the livelihood of the people, and improved economic wellbeing, urged the participants to make good use of the opportunity accorded them.
Earlier, the Principal Consultant of Synergy Impact Consultants limited Mr Lanre Babalola, said the aim of the training/intervention programme was to broaden the skills and knowledge of the selected participants in the area of post-harvest management with a concentration on the use of solar dryer tent in order to ensure food hygiene and prevention of post-harvest loss.
He also said that production of food crops in the country has increased due to recent advocacy for diversification of the economy, adding that high percentage is lost due to lack of proper post-harvest management in the areas of drying and storage component required to guarantee food security.
Babalola noted that the losses cause low return for farmers on annual investment, reduce internally generated revenue, low family income and create food scarcity.
“Conscious effort has to be employed to ensure that wastages that usually result from a lack of in-depth knowledge and simple adherence to the basic good agricultural practices are avoided.