• Saturday, April 20, 2024
businessday logo


NSPRI deploys steel drums to tackle postharvest losses

postharvest losses

Farm produce worth trillions of naira are lost postharvest every year in Nigeria, and in a bid to reduce this while also improving the quality of food across the country, the Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI) says it 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, says it rolled out the first batch of steel drums to farmers across Nigeria recently.

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. The available oxygen in the internal ecosystem is reduced to lethal or limiting the respiration of any living organism within the system.

The hermetic steel drums, according to a press statement were sourced from Pacegate Limited – a subsidiary of Hana Group and Manufacturer of steel drums. Described as a certified steel drum factory in Nigeria, the drums are said to have been built, tested and certified to carry agricultural produce with no leakages. In addition, the drums are environmentally friendly and have been incorporated with anti-rust and coated with food grade lacquer, which protects it from rust and enhances food safety.

“Postharvest value chain is important in ensuring food safety and security in Nigeria, especially with respect to properly dried staple agricultural commodities,” said Patricia Pessu, executive director, NSPRI at a recent virtual event announcing the initiative. According to her, the preservation of commodities such as 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 popularized 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.

Also commenting, Umesh Amarnani, managing director, Pacegate Limited, said, “Players in the agricultural industry should adopt modern techniques and take advantage of local technology in line with global standards that will not only increase yield but also protect our health and environment.

“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 sensitize stakeholders in the agricultural value chain on the immense benefits of steel drums,” he said.

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. Other benefits of using hermetic steel drums for storage includes:

· Eliminate the fear of damage by stored product pests (insects and rodents) thereby assuring food safety and protecting economic value of the products.

· No requirement of the use of chemicals, thereby eliminating the possibility of food poisoning and additional costs that may have been incurred as a result of use chemicals.

· The drum can be used to store multiple crops at the same time and stored products can be consumed whenever the need arises.

· The hermetic drum has a lifespan of over thirty years with a payback period of less than three years.

· The technology is fire & waterproof, gender friendly and easy to use with relatively low maintenance.

· The drum is robust and can be transported with no damage, retaining their air tightness.