NSPRI introduces hermetic steel drums for food storage

•Reinforces commitment to tackling post-harvest losses

IN a bid to reduce postharvest losses and improve the quality of food across the country, the Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI) has commenced the use of hermetic steel drums for the storage of dried durable products.

The agency, which aims to reduce postharvest losses by ensuring quality, safety and availability of agricultural produce, rolled out the first batch of steel drums to farmers across Nigeria last week.

Hermetic storage is a method of using sealed, airtight units to control moisture and insects in the storage of dried agricultural commodities.

The hermetic storage restricts gas exchanges between the internal and external environments and the stored commodity, maintaining the initial levels of moisture and controlling pests by the lack of oxygen, with the available oxygen in the internal ecosystem reduced to lethal or limiting the respiration of any living organism within the system.

The hermetic steel drums were sourced from the first and only United Nations (UN)-certified steel drum factory in Nigeria, Pacegate Limited, a subsidiary of Hana Group and manufacturer of steel drums.

The drums are built, tested and certified to carry agricultural produce with no leakages and are, at the same time, environmentally friendly, incorporated with anti-rust and coated with food grade lacquer to enhance food safety.

Speaking at the event, Executive Director, NSPRI, Dr Patricia O. Pessu, said “Postharvest value chain is important in ensuring food safety and security in Nigeria, especially with respect to properly dried staple agricultural commodities. Preservation of these commodities (grains, dried products from yam, cassava, potatoes, fruits, vegetables,  fishery, meat, etc) from season of surplus using appropriate and safe storage practice will benefit all actors along the value chain (farmers, processors, marketers, traders, transporters, consumers) in terms of monetary, health and protect agricultural economic values of the country.

“One of the technologies developed and popularised by NSPRI for non-chemical preservation and safe handling of these durable products is the NSPRI hermetic steel drum produced by Pacegate Limited,” Pessu added.

Speaking at the briefing, Director, Research Operations, NSPRI, Dr F. Olayemi, said sustainability and availability of staple foods consumed in sub-Saharan Africa on a daily basis are very important.

He lamented that hitherto, in order to reduce losses, grain handlers had resorted to the use of chemicals, without considering harzardous effects of such, adding that the drums were introduced to arrest wastages and secure the staple foods.

Also commenting, Managing Director, Pacegate Limited, Mr Umesh Amarnani, said “Our steel drums are safe, reliable, cost-effective and sustainable and designed to provide efficient storage of dried agricultural produce. I commend the NSPRI for taking the initiative to sensitise stakeholders in the agricultural value chain on the immense benefits of steel drums.”

With the use of hermetic steel drums, dried agricultural commodities such as grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, fisheries and livestock can be effectively stored while reducing the impact of pesticides and aflatoxin contaminations.

 

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