Alhaji Jafaru Illelah, Programme Manager, Bauchi State Agricultural Development Programme (BSADP) has advised farmers to imbibe global best practices to reduce post-harvest losses and boost food security.
Illelah gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Bauchi.
He urged farmers to adopt proper harvest and storage practices to reduce losses during and after harvesting their crops.
“Harvesting is the operation of gathering the useful part or parts of the plant and is carried out at the time when all the nutrients have developed and the edible parts have reached the appropriate degree of maturity.
“At the time of maturity, the grain has specific moisture content and special physical characteristics.
“The most appropriate time of harvest is determined by the length of the growing cycles (which differ according to the crop and its varieties) and also the degree of maturity of the grain,” he said
The agronomist said harvest should take place at a time when the grain has moisture content in the range of 15 to 20 per cent.
He said, “the higher the moisture of the grain at harvest time, the greater the risks of losses from molds, insects and germination.
“On the other hand, the longer the grain remains in the field (for further drying), the greater are the risks of losses due to shattering of grains, or from attacks by birds, rodents and other pests”.
According to Illelah, the purpose of grain storage facility is to provide safe conditions to prevent losses caused by adverse weather, moisture, rodents, birds, insects and microorganisms like fungi.
He recommended that rice for food purposes be stored in paddy form rather than milled as the husk provides some protection against insects and helps prevent quality deterioration.
“Rice storage facilities take many forms depending on the quantity of grain to be stored, the purpose of storage, and the location of the store.
“Storage systems can be through bag, bulk, or hermetic containers.
“Bulk storage grain is stored in bulk at the farm or at commercial collection houses as well as hermetic storage systems”.
The grain, he noted, could be stored in an airtight container so that its moisture content would remain the same as when it was sealed.
“These storages can extend germination life of seeds, control insect grain pests, and improve head rice,” Illelah said (NAN)