The Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI) has developed technology-driven storage facilities for farmers across the country to help tackle post-harvest food losses, one of the leading causes of food insecurity in the country.
NSPRI says it has empowered no fewer than 1,738 farmers in 19 states of the federation with its improved food storage facilities such as iced-fish boxes, hermetic steel drums, smoking kilns, and parabolic solar dryers.
“The NSPRI iced-fish box is one of our innovations and feedback from users indicates that it is considerably curbing spoilage occasioned by inadequate or poor storage,” said Patricia Pessu, executive director, NSPRI in a welcome address during the flag-off ceremony for the distribution of improved storage facilities for vulnerable women and youth farmers.
“For grains and legumes, we have the NSPRI hermetic steel drums as well as the inert atmosphere silos for storage,” Pessu said.
She added that the institute has also developed stackable fruit and vegetable baskets that are designed in such a way that fruits and vegetables transferred from the farm to the market have minimal or no damage as opposed to the traditional baskets raffia used currently.
“Another of our innovations is the parabolic-shaped solar dryer. This dryer utilizes the abundant sunshine across our country to speedily and hygienically dry different products,” she stated.
She noted that scientists in the institute are working tirelessly to investigate environmental cooling systems in their search for ways to preserve fruits over a longer-term.
According to her, the institute’s innovations are typically premised on some basic principles which are; effectiveness to ensure that when the innovations are deployed it effectively reduces post-harvest losses, cost-efficiency investments made on acquiring them will generate good returns and availability innovations that can be copied and replicated easily and conveniently across the country.
“Our scientists continue to strive with a great deal of enthusiasm to drive these and many other innovations with the active support of our engineers who continue to bring these brilliant scientific concepts to reality by their creative and down-to-earth designs and fabrications,” she said.
She added that the technologies are currently being popularized by the NSPRI using a combination of approaches to ensure that it is deployed by farmers across the country.
“We are engaging different stakeholders including farmers groups, agricultural entrepreneurs, community leaders, young people, and media among others. We are also actively, to the extent of fund availability, advertising some of these innovations in the mass media as well as social media,” she said.
Speaking further, Pessu noted that a key element of NSPRIs 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 popularization of these technologies to our different stakeholders. Indeed, one major objective of the event is to flag-off the reinforcement of our promotional activities,” she added.
In an address at the same event, Ernest Umakhihe, permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), buttressed the importance of the management of agricultural harvests to national food security and commended NSPRI for complementing the efforts of the FMARD at empowering farmers with the skill and wherewithal to enhance production.
“At the Ministry of Agriculture, we recognize 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,” he said.
He commended the board and management of NSPRI for keying into the vision of the Federal Government driven by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
He noted that the ministry is very impressed with the array of innovations that NSPRI continues to introduce to the agricultural sector regularly.
According to him, the innovations not only contribute to enhancing food security but also generate an economic multiplier effect that translates to enhanced economic growth and development.
Represented by Frank Satumari Kudla, director of extension services, FMARD, the permanent secretary, who expressed his delight at the synergy between the NSPRI and the other sister agencies in the ministry, encouraged the institute to continue with more innovations that will quicken the pace of s and their commercialization of these technologies. He pledged the continued support of the ministry to enable NSPRI to continue to deliver on its mandate.
The highpoint of the occasion was the guided tour of the NSPRI technologies and the ceremonial presentation of the iced fish boxes, fish smoking kilns and hermetic steel drums to the respective farmers and trade associations.