How to reduce the post-harvest loss of farm produces

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Harvested grains

Reducing post-harvest loss in agriculture is very important with the alarming increase in Nigeria population. To ensure food security and to put an end to hunger in our society before 2030, there is need to emphasize more on reducing post-harvest loss of farm produces by enlightening the local farmers on how to reduce post-harvest loss.  I have been privileged to visit many farmers field across the farm settlements in Nigeria, and I discovered that most of the Nigeria food wastage occurs during the post-harvest.

A figure released by the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) also confirm that approximately $9 billion is lose every year in Nigeria owing to poor post-harvesting management or handling.  Sixty percent of the lost were from highly perishable farm produces such as vegetables (leafy vegetable, tomatoes, pepper, okra, etc.). Staple food grains such as sorghum, maize, millet are lost due to poor storage.

To minimize post-harvest loss of farm produces, there is a need to train farmers on various improved methods of food storage after the harvest season.

The bulk of the agricultural production is from the rural areas; therefore there is a need for the State and local government to partner with research institute or agency such as the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Agricultural Development Project (ADP) to train farmers on the best post-harvest techniques.

To grain farmers, the use of airtight storage can help reduce post-harvest loss. Hermetic storage means airtight and waterproof methods of storage. Adopting this method will allow farmers to protect their grains from insects, mold or rodents’ infestations or destruction. It will also protect from moisture and ensure a long preservation period.

Airtight bags can be given to grain farmers for free or at a subsidized rate. Materials like this can be used as incentives during electoral campaigns instead of the usual rice, kerosene, Ankara, or money. The incentive will be significantly appreciated by grain farmers in rural areas.

The airtight bags can help farmers store their grains for 6 to 7 months, and will help them get a good price for their grains instead of selling at a loss to prevent wastage. The hermetic (airtight) bags ensure all stored grains are intact after months, thereby commanding high profit.  Although, this technique has been adopted by grain farmers in the Northern part of the country because most of the grains consumed in the country are being produced from the north.

Finally, to boost food security and achieve zero hunger, private enterprises should support the production of hermetic storage bags and the training program.

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