From Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
A thousand vulnerable rural women and youths in 19 select states of the federation have benefited from Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI) Kwara State improved storage facilities.
The facilities distributed in the first phase include 1,000 iced-fish boxes, 600 NSPRI hermetic steel drums, 120 NSPRI smoking kiln and 18 parabolic solar dryers.
Speaking during the flag off tagged “Popularisation and distribution of agricultural storage facilities to vulnerable women and Youth” in Ilorin, the executive director of the NSPRI, Dr. Patricia Pessu, said that the institute is committed to improve food storage for a happier nation.
‘We recognise that women in rural areas across Nigeria play an increasingly pivotal role in agricultural production as well as post-harvest activities. Estimates of involvement of women across the agricultural value chain range between 20 per cent to 70 per cent. So, with more support and encouragement, these hardworking women can deliver more economic value to our country, while helping to drive the government’s food security agenda.
‘We also recognise that there are several vulnerable women and young people whose lives would be positively impacted if they had access to some of our innovations.
‘We are confident that these facilities will boost the productivity of hordes of women involved in agricultural activities in rural areas. Also, by providing vulnerable women and young people with a decent livelihood, we trust that these facilities will not only help to ease their burdens but set them on the path of enhanced economic productivity,’ she said.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, who said that the facilities would help prevent post-harvest losses among the beneficiaries, added that post-harvest losses is one of the major problems of the Nigeria agricultural sector.
‘Food losses due to poor post-harvest technologies have potential effects on food security and nutrition. This causes a shortage of food supply, availability, access and utilisation. Access to improved systems and technology is a perfect strategy in reducing food losses both at harvest, home and market,’ he said.
In his goodwill message, the commissioner for Agriculture in Kwara State, Sabba Issa Gideon, said that the programme would complement the efforts of the state government at ensuring food surplus.
The commissioner, who said that the programme is capable of adding value to agriculture produce, added that it is not only for vulnerable women and youth in the rural areas but for all cadres of farmers and the general population.