According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), about 1.7 billion tonnes or almost one-third of food produced for consumption, is lost or wasted globally. The costs are around $1 trillion yearly. To solve the problem, the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute has unveiled some of its storage facilities, DANIEL ESSIET reports.
The United Nations (UN) report estimates that 17 per cent of the food produced globally each year is wasted. This amounts to 931 million metric tons (1.03 billion tonnes).
In addition, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) noted that 1.3 billion tonnes of food – equivalent to a third of global production – is wasted yearly by the world – enough to feed three billion people.
No doubt, rapid population growth and increasing economic activities have resulted in unprecedented food waste.
Across sub-Saharan Africa, more than a third of fruits, vegetables, roots, and tubers are lost by the time they are processed or packaged, according to FAO.
Like much of sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria produces various foods for consumption as well as export.
At present, there are no estimates for the food wasted at the retail and consumer levels. However, analysts highlighted that the amount of food wasted is huge.
Some steps have been taken by the government and private businesses to reduce wastage.
One of these is the improved food storage facilities provided by the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Ilorin, Kwara State.
So far, no fewer than 1,738 farmers in 19 states have been empowered by NSPRI, with improved food storage facilities.
At the presentation, 1,000 iced-fish boxes, 600 NSPRI Hermetic Steel Drums, 120 Smoking Kilns, and 18 parabolic solar dryers were distributed to farmers and their cooperative societies across the federation.
The Executive Director, NSPRI, Dr. Patricia Pessu, while crediting the Federal Government for the gesture, expressed NSPRI’s determination to avail Nigerians of sustainable solutions to the problem of post-harvest losses, noting that the institute’s innovations were predicated on the principles of effectiveness, cost-efficiency and availability.
“So far, under the guidance of our Board and the support of our management and staff, our scientists have come up with several innovations to support post-harvest storage of agricultural commodities.
“In the area of fisheries and livestock, for instance, we have the NSPRI iced-fish box with which fish farmers and entrepreneurs can preserve freshly harvested fish for up to 48 hours. We have also developed the NSPRI Fish-Smoking Kilns, with which fish can be smoked in a convenient and healthy fashion. This way, fish farmers are spared the unnecessary labour associated with the traditional fish-smoking methods as fish smoked using this method is not only uniformly dried but also visually appealing and largely devoid of unhealthy smoke and soot residues.
“For grains and legumes, we have the NSPRI Hermetic Steel Drums as well as the NSPRI Inert Atmosphere Silos for storage. We also have stackable fruit and vegetable baskets whose design is such that fruits and vegetables can be transferred from farm to market with minimal or no damage to the contents, as opposed to the traditional baskets of old.
“Another of our innovations is the parabolic-shaped solar dryer. This dryer utilises the abundant sunshine across our country to speedily and hygienically dry different products including vegetables, grains, yam and cassava chips among many others. In addition, the dryer hinders the penetration of harmful ultraviolet radiation, helping to ensure that the products are not only safer but indeed more visually and commercially appealing,” she added.
Mrs Pessu noted that a key element of NSPRI’s mandate is to ensure that prospective users of its technologies understand them, appreciate the value which the technologies translate to and consequently, readily adopt them. “This is what underscores our ongoing effort to significantly increase the promotion and popularisation of these technologies to our different stakeholders. Indeed, one major objective of today’s special event is to flag-off our reinforcement of our promotional activities.”
The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Ernest Umakhihe, buttressed the importance of the management of harvests to national food security and commended the institute for complementing the efforts of the ministry in empowering farmers with the skill and wherewithal to enhance production.
“At the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, we recognise that poor post-harvest management has been a critical issue for many years in the agriculture sector and that it severely hampers the productivity of farmers.
“I must commend the Board and Management of NSPRI not only for efficiently buying into the vision of the Federal Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, but also for doing this aggressively and potently. I must say that the ministry is impressed with the array of innovations, which NSPRI continues to introduce to the sector on a regular basis. These innovations not only contribute to enhancing food security but also generate an economic multiplier effect that translates to enhanced economic growth and development in our country,” he added.
Represented by the Director of Extension Services in the ministry, Frank Satumari Kudla, the Permanent Secretary, who expressed his delight at the synergy between the institute and other sister agencies in the Ministry, advised the institute not to rest on its oars, but rather to “further quicken the pace of innovations and their commercialisation in such a manner that the technologies become a lot more affordable than they are.”
He pledged the continued support of the ministry to enable NSPRI continue to deliver on its mission excellently.
There were goodwill messages from representatives of various sister agricultural agencies, institutions, agricultural cooperatives, trade associations, non-governmental organisations and professional groups, who lauded the Executive Director of NSPRI for the research.
The groups include the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM), the Agricultural and Rural Management Technology Institute (ARMTI), the National Fresh Water Research Institute (NFWRI), Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CATFAN), former NSPRI Executive Directors and the Justice Development and Peace Commission of the Catholic Church.
The high point of the occasion was the tour of the NSPRI technologies and the presentation of the items to farmers and trade associations.